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Eloxatin™ (oxaliplatin) offers promise for the treatment of recurrent or refractory non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, according to the results of a Phase II clinical trial published in the journal Cancer.

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) is a form of cancer that begins in the cells of the lymph system, which includes the spleen, thymus, tonsils, bone marrow, lymph nodes, and circulating immune cells. Lymphocytes are the main cells in the lymph system and exist in two forms: B and T-cells. Each of these cells serves a specific function in aiding the body fight infection. In NHL an excessive amount of atypical (cancerous) lymphocytes accumulates in the lymph system. These lymphocytes can crowd and suppress the formation and function of other immune and blood cells. NHL is categorized by the type of lymphocyte it involves and further defined by the rate at which the cancer grows. The appearance of the cells under a microscope indicates the growth rate. High-grade or aggressive NHL is the fastest growing, whereas low-grade or indolent lymphoma develops slowest. Lymphoma that has returned following therapy is classified as recurrent; refractory lymphoma is cancer that has stopped responding to standard therapies.

Eloxatin is a platinum-based chemotherapy drug that is FDA approved for treatment of colorectal cancer. Preclinical studies of Eloxatin (studies not conducted in humans) suggest that Eloxatin may be effective against several types of cancer, including lymphomas. Furthermore, Phase I clinical studies suggest that Eloxatin is safe and less likely than Platinol® (cisplatin) to cause kidney or hearing problems. Based on the promising preclinical and Phase I results, researchers conducted a Phase II clinical trial to evaluate Eloxatin for the treatment of recurrent or refractory non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL).

Between January 2001 and October 2003, researchers affiliated with the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, enrolled 31 patients with recurrent or refractory NHL. Twenty-three patients had aggressive NHL and eight had indolent NHL. After treatment with Eloxatin, 27% of patients experienced complete disappearance or partial reduction of detectable lymphoma. Severe adverse effects of treatment included sensory loss (10% of subjects), low white blood cell levels (17%), and low platelet levels (20%).

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The researchers concluded that Eloxatin offers promise for the treatment of recurrent and refractory NHL. They suggest additional clinical trials evaluating Eloxatin in combination with other drugs. Patients with recurrent or refractory NHL may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of participation in a clinical trial further evaluating Eloxatin or other promising therapeutic approaches. Sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute (

Reference: Oki Y, McLaughlin P, Pro B et al. Phase II study of oxaliplatin in patients with recurrent or refractory non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Cancer. 2005;104:781-7.