Microtubule Targeting Agents: A Benchmark in Cancer Therapy
The treatment of many diseases owes much to the important medicines that have been derived from plants,
cancer is no exception. Cancer is a class of diseases characterized by out-of-control cell growth. Researchers have
developed many agents which have shown brilliant therapeutic results against cancerous cells out of which the
microtubule-targeting agents (MTAs) have made significant contributions to cancer therapy over the past 50 years. These
dynamic tubulin structures can be targeted for the treatment of cancer due to their critical role in mitosis and other cellular
processes. MTAs cause stabilisation (MSAs) or depolymerisation (MDAs) of the microtubules and hence result in
apoptosis. This therapy has been frequently used in the treatment of advanced ovarian, breast, lung, head and neck, and
prostate cancer, and is increasingly being used in early stage disease. Taxanes (e.g. paclitaxel, docetaxel) and epothilones
(e.g. ixabepilone) are microtubule-targeting agents, which disrupt cellular processes and induce apoptosis. Nocodazole,
Chamaecypanone C, Discodermolide, Noscapine, Laulimalide, and Eribulin are similar natural agents with convincing
therapeutic efficacy in this field. Collectively these findings suggest mechanisms and therapies by which growth
conditions may contribute to resistance to rapid killing by microtubule-disrupting drugs.
Keywords: Apoptosis, cancer, depolymerisation, microtubule targeting agents, stabilization.
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