OPEN Drug design, development and therapy | 20 Dec 2012
JA Yared and KH Tkaczuk
The taxanes (paclitaxel and docetaxel) represent an important class of antineoplastic agents that interfere with microtubule function leading to altered mitosis and cellular death. Paclitaxel (Taxol(®)) was originally extracted from a yew tree (Taxus spp., Taxaceae) a small slow-growing evergreen, coniferous tree. Due to the initial scarcity of paclitaxel, docetaxel (Taxotere(®)) a semisynthetic analog of paclitaxel produced from the needles of European yew tree, Taxus baccata was developed. Docetaxel differs from paclitaxel in two positions in its chemical structure and this small alteration makes it more water soluble. Today, paclitaxel and docetaxel are widely prescribed antineoplastic agents for a broad range of malignancies including lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma, squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, gastric cancer, esophageal cancer, bladder cancer, and other carcinomas. Although very active clinically, paclitaxel and docetaxel have several clinical problems including poor drug solubility, serious dose-limiting toxicities such as myelosuppression, peripheral sensory neuropathy, allergic reactions, and eventual development of drug resistance. A number of these side effects have been associated with the solvents used for dilution of these antineoplastic agents: Cremophor EL for paclitaxel and polysorbate 80 for docetaxel. In addition, reports have linked these solvents to the alterations in paclitaxel and docetaxel pharmacokinetic profiles. In this review, we provide preclinical and clinical data on several novel taxanes formulations and analogs which are currently US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved or in clinical development in various solid tumor malignancies. Of the new taxanes nab-paclitaxel and cabazitaxel have enjoyed clinical success and are FDA-approved; while many of the other compounds described in this review are unlikely to be further developed for clinical use in daily practice. Furthermore, the successful clinical emergence of novel nontaxane microtubule-targeting chemotherapy agents such as epothilones and eribulin is liable to further restrict the development of novel taxanes.
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