Decitabine (5-aza-2p-deoxycytidine) is a hypomethylation agent with a double-action mechanism, these are the reactivation of silenced genes; exhibiting differentiation at low doses and showing cytotoxicity at high doses. Decitabine was used as a classic anticancer drug in the original studies in the 1980s, 1500 to 2500 mg/m2 per cycle was the maximum clinically tolerated dose. The dosage was reassessed after a better understanding of epigenetics in cancer and the role of decitabine in epigenetic (hypomethylation) therapy was obtained, in about 1/20th of the previous doses (i.e., 'optimal biological' doses modulating hypomethylation). It has been found that decitabine (100 to 150 mg / m2 per cycle) can be used in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and other myeloid tumors, with manageable side effects. Combination therapies which amplify the epigenetic effect of decitabine will most likely improve the patient responses and allow it to be used in the treatment of other malignancies.
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