Advances in combination therapy of lung cancer: Rationales, delivery technologies and dosage regimens

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Abstract

Lung cancer is a complex disease caused by a multitude of genetic and environmental factors. The progression of lung cancer involves dynamic changes in the genome and a complex network of interactions between cancer cells with multiple, distinct cell types that form tumors. Combination therapy using different pharmaceuticals has been proven highly effective due to the ability to affect multiple cellular pathways involved in the disease progression. However, the currently used drug combination designs are primarily based on empirical clinical studies, and little attention has been given to dosage regimens, i.e. how administration routes, onsets, and durations of the combinations influence the therapeutic outcome. This is partly because combination therapy is challenged by distinct physicochemical properties and in vivo pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics of the individual pharmaceuticals, including small molecule drugs and biopharmaceuticals, which make the optimization of dosing and administration schedule challenging. This article reviews the recent advances in the design and development of combinations of pharmaceuticals for the treatment of lung cancer. Focus is primarily on rationales for the selection of specific combination therapies for lung cancer treatment, and state of the art of delivery technologies and dosage regimens for the combinations, tested in preclinical and clinical trials.

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