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The chemical structure of paclitaxel.

The taxanes are diterpenes produced by the plants of the genus Taxus (yews). As their name suggests, they were first derived from natural sources, but some have been synthesized artificially. Taxanes include paclitaxel (Taxol) and docetaxel. Paclitaxel was originally derived from the Pacific yew tree.

Taxanes have been used to produce various chemotherapy drugs.[1] The principal mechanism of the taxane class of drugs is the disruption of microtubule function. It does this by stabilizing GDP-bound tubulin in the microtubule. Microtubules are essential to cell division, and taxanes therefore stop this - a "frozen mitosis". Thus, taxanes are essentially mitotic inhibitors. In contrast to the taxanes, the vinca alkaloids destroy mitotic spindles. Both, taxanes and vinca alkaloids are therefore named spindle poisons or mitosis poisons, but they act in different ways. Taxanes are also thought to be radiosensitizing.

References

  1. ^ Takimoto CH, Calvo E. "Principles of Oncologic Pharmacotherapy" in Pazdur R, Wagman LD, Camphausen KA, Hoskins WJ (Eds) Cancer Management: A Multidisciplinary Approach. 11 ed. 2008.
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Simple English


The taxanes are chemical substances produced by the plants of the genus Taxus (yews). They were first made from natural sources, but some have been produced artificially. Taxanes include paclitaxel and docetaxel. Paclitaxel was originally derived from the Pacific yew tree.

Taxanes have been used to make various chemotherapy drugs. Taxanes work mainly by disrupting of the microtubule function. They do this by stabilizing GDP-bound tubulin in the microtubule. Microtubules are essential to cell division, and taxanes therefore stop this - a "frozen mitosis". Thus, taxanes are essentially mitotic inhibitors. In contrast to the taxanes, the vinca alkaloids destroy mitotic spindles. Both, taxanes and vinca alkaloids are therefore named spindle poisons or mitosis poisons, but they act in different ways. Taxanes are also thought to be radiosensitizing.


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