Animal Tests Show Experimental Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Drug Less Toxic to the Heart, According to the Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Center

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A new study indicates that an investigational drug for relapsed Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma called pixantrone (Pixuvri) is safer for the heart than the current front-line treatment.

New NHL Drug Easier on the Heart?

All pixantrone animals survived, while doxorubicin induced 52.5% mortality...

Research published in Reproductive Toxicology and reported by the Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Center suggests that there may be a better treatment option for people with relapsed or refractory (recurrent) aggressive Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma patients who relapse are often treated with the drug doxorubicin, an effective but highly cardiotoxic anthracycline. But Cell Therapeutics, Inc., the makers of pixantrone, say their studies show this anticancer antibiotic is just as effective against Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma but much less toxic to heart tissue.

In the latest study, researchers in Italy injected 15 or 27 mg/kg of pixantrone into mice on seven different days, beginning when they were 10 days old and ending when they were 42 days old. Another group of mice received 3 mg/kg of doxorubicin on the same schedule. “All pixantrone animals survived, while doxorubicin induced 52.5% mortality and the surviving animals were sacrificed early due to severe toxicity,” the researchers report.

The doxorubicin-treated animals showed a significant reduction in the size of their hearts by day 42, an indication of the amount of damage that the drug had done to the heart tissue. Although pixantrone did reversible damage to the bone marrow and both pixantrone and doxorubicin were toxic to the thymus and the reproductive organs, pixantrone did very little damage to the hearts of the mice. At day 96, most had not developed any treatment-related heart problems.

This could be especially good news for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma patients who have relapsed after treatment with doxorubicin, since additional doxorubicin treatment would not be a safe option.

At present, pixantrone is approved for the treatment of relapsed aggressive Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in Europe, but not in the US. The FDA initially gave the drug fast-track approval for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma treatment but reversed its decision because of toxicity concerns. In 2012, Cell Therapeutics, Inc. withdrew its new drug application pending additional tests. (Pixuvri Approval Status,,

The newest study was originally published in Reproductive Toxicology. (Longo, M, et al, “Tolerability and toxicological profile of pixantrone (Pixuvri) in juvenile mice. Comparative study with doxorubicin”, March 3, 2014, Reproductive Toxicology, Epub ahead of print,

The Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Center is part of the Cancer Monthly organization. The Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Center has been established by Cancer Monthly to provide more comprehensive information on the causes, diagnosis, and treatments for the many different subtypes of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. For over ten years, Cancer Monthly has been the only centralized source of cancer treatment results. Patients can see the actual survival rate, quality-of-life indicators, and other key data for approximately 1,500 different cancer treatments. Cancer Monthly provides timely and ground-breaking news on the causes, diagnoses and treatments of the most common cancers including Bladder, Brain, Breast, Colon, Kidney (Renal), Liver, Lung (NSCLC), Ovarian, Prostate, and Rectal Cancers, Melanoma, Mesothelioma, and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Written for patients and their loved ones, Cancer Monthly helps families make more informed treatment decisions.

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Cancer Monthy
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