Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research

The winning formulation: the development of paclitaxel in pancreatic cancer.

PMID 23918602


Paclitaxel has wide application in anticancer therapy but was never considered an efficacious agent in pancreatic cancer. A review of the experience with the Cremaphor formulation hinted at paclitaxel's activity in pancreatic cancer, but the early development was hampered by significant toxicities such as neutropenia and infection at clinically tolerable doses. However, such efficacy was confirmed in the recently completed phase III Metastatic Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Clinical Trial (MPACT), in which the addition of nab-paclitaxel to gemcitabine significantly improved the survival of patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer. Several other Cremaphor-free formulations of paclitaxel had also been evaluated in pancreatic cancer, and the reasons for the success of the albumin nanoparticulate are examined here. In the era of biologic and molecularly targeted agents, the success of nab-paclitaxel in recalcitrant pancreatic cancer is a timely reminder of the importance and relevance of pharmacology and novel drug delivery technology in the development of anticancer drugs.