Doxorubicin is a chemotherapy drug used to treat a wide range of cancers, like breast cancer, leukaemia, lymphoma and ovarian cancer, to name a few. Also known as Adriamycin, Doxorubicin belongs to a family of drugs called Anthracyclines.
Mechanism and Function
Doxorubicin works by slowing down the growth of cancer cells and sometimes even stopping them altogether. It has the property to kill cells, hence called cytotoxic, and it permanently binds to DNA molecules in a process called intercalation. Doxorubicin positions itself between the DNA base pairs, which impacts in a two-way action:
- DNA Synthesis– When Doxorubicin binds to the DNA, the DNA strand cannot replicate and thus keeps the cancer cells from further dividing.
- Protein Synthesis– Another action of Doxorubicin administration is that it keeps the cellular machinery from reading ‘DNA’ and producing new proteins, which are much needed for a cell to function.
Another mechanism of Doxorubicin function is that it inhibits the enzyme topoisomerase II from working, preventing certain types of repairs to DNA damage. It is also known to produce oxygen free radicals, which can directly damage cell membranes, proteins, and DNA molecules. Although Doxorubicin can affect rapidly dividing cells, it can also target healthy cells. It must be administered with complete caution under the prescription of a certified medical practitioner. (1)
Administration in chemotherapy
Doxorubicin drug is very widely used chemotherapy. It treats various cancer types, especially leukaemia of the acute lymphoblastic and myeloid types. It also treats breast cancer, bladder cancer, lung cancer, neuroblastoma, ovarian cancer, stomach cancer, and thyroid cancer.
Doxorubicin is administered intravenously as a liquid in the injection or continuous infusion form, through a central line or peripheral venous line, given over several minutes. Sometimes, even intravesical administration is done, where Doxorubicin is directly placed in the bladder to treat cancer of the bladder lining, though not approved by the FDA as a method of administration. There is no pill form of the drug anti-cancer drug Doxorubicin.
The Dosage of Doxorubicin depends on various factors, so the doctor decides upon the exact dosage and schedule. Side Effects are observed in Doxorubicin administration, which may be nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, weight loss, tiredness, hair loss, stomach pain, dizziness, irritated or painful eyes, burning and tingling sensation in extremities. Sometimes, the effect of Doxorubicin can temporarily decrease red blood cells and platelets; and expose the patient to an increased risk of infection, anaemia or bleeding. Temporary hair loss, both on the scalp and body, is often observed.
Doxorubicin should be avoided by patients undergoing radiotherapy, by pregnant and lactating mothers, during an immunisation routine with vaccines and with other food, drink and vitamin mixes. Having severe side effects and inherent blood-red colour, the drug Doxorubicin is thus called ‘Red Devil’ sometimes. (2)
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Anzen Export’s blog posts have been written with the information gathered from approved medical journals and websites online. Our research and technical team strive to provide relevant information through such articles. We advise consulting a doctor about an ingredient or medicine before taking it to be best informed.