Taxanes are a family of diterpenes produced by the yews (Taxus genus) that are
extensively used in chemotherapy. The family encompasses paclitaxel, docetaxel and the
recently added cabazitaxel, all of which were proven to be promising anti-cancer drugs. Due
to the over harvesting danger threatening the yew trees as well as the many challenges faced
by taxane-based chemotherapy, new formulations, analogs and delivery systems are required.
Here, we undertook a structured search of the bibliographical database PubMed for peerreviewed
research papers relying on key words and date of publication and organized the
information based on the method of taxane drug delivery. Papers retrieved were from journals
with significant impact and comparable scope. A total of 126 papers were reviewed, 81
of which published work related to the taxane formulations and nanoparticles, and 22 focused
on the analogs derived from the three taxanes. Although recent articles investigate the
effectiveness of taxane formulations, most of these formulations are still at the pre-clinical
level. However, many of the taxane analogs are currently in clinical trials as second line
treatment of aggressive cancers or are used in combination with other chemotherapeutic
drugs. The findings corroborate the importance of developing new drug delivery strategies
and taxane analogs to improve the efficacy of currently used chemotherapeutic drugs. This
finding is further supported by the FDA-approved formulation of paclitaxel that eliminates
the need for toxic solvents for drug administration, and the docetaxel analog cabazitaxel
which has decreased affinity for efflux pumps.
Keywords: Anti-cancer, taxanes, paclitaxel, docetaxel, cabazitaxel, formulation, analogs, drug delivery.
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