Modified bleomycin reduces toxic side effects

Mouse study shows deglyco-bleomycin could be less toxic alternative to standard bleomycin.

Close up of a nurse injecting a chemotherapy drug intravenously through a patient's arm

Bleomycin (BLM) is a potent anticancer agent used in combination chemotherapy against a number of malignancies. But its use is limited because around 20% of patients develop lung toxicity, which in its most severe form causes lung fibrosis. 

So researchers in France tested a deglycosylated form of bleomycin (deglyco-BLM) to see if it reduced toxicity. 

In mouse models of leukaemia, melanoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma, there was no observed lung damage after administration of deglyco-BLM at the effective anti-tumour dose. Unlike BLM, deglyco-BLM did not induce oxidative stress or caspase-1 activation, nor did it trigger subsequent production of inflammatory and profibrotic cytokines in the lungs. 

The researchers, reporting in Science Translational Medicine (online, 17 February 2016)[1]
, say clinical testing is needed to explore whether deglyco-BLM could be a less toxic alternative to BLM in humans.


[1] Burgy O, Wettstein G, Bellaye PS, et al. Deglycosylated bleomycin has the antitumor activity of bleomycin without pulmonary toxicity. Science Translational Medicine 2016; 326: 326ra20. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aad7785.

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The Pharmaceutical Journal, Modified bleomycin reduces toxic side effects;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20200736

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