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Taxanes are highly active chemotherapeutic agents in the treatment of early-stage and metastatic breast cancer. Novel formulations have been developed to improve efficacy and decrease toxicity associated with these cytotoxic agents. nab-paclitaxel is a solvent free, albumin-bound 130-nanometer particle formulation of paclitaxel (Abraxane®, Abraxis Bioscience), which was developed to avoid toxicities of the Cremophor vehicle used in solvent-based paclitaxel. In a phase III clinical trial, nab-paclitaxel demonstrated higher response rates, better safety and side-effect profile compared to conventional paclitaxel, and improved survival in patients receiving it as second line therapy. Higher doses can be administered over a shorter infusion time without the need for special infusion sets or pre-medications. It is now approved in the US for treatment of breast cancer after failure of combination chemotherapy for metastatic disease or relapse within 6 months of adjuvant therapy, where prior therapy included an anthracycline. Recently, several phase II studies have suggested a role for nab-paclitaxel as a single agent and in combination with other agents for first-line treatment of metastatic breast cancer.
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