Drugs that Act on Microtubules
Pp. 324-328 (5)
Robert E. Smith
Microtubules are also possible targets for therapy. They participate in many
cellular processes, including transport and cell division. There are two classes of
microtubule drugs, microtubule inhibitors (vincristine and vinblastine, which are
alkaloids from the Madagascar periwinkle, also known as the Catharanthus roseus, and
once known as Vinca rosa), approved by the FDA in 1963 and 1965, and stabilizers
Taxol (Paclitaxel) and Taxotere (Docatexel) approved in 1992, and 1996, respectively.
Also, there are two semi-synthetic derivatives of vincristine, called vindesine and
vinorelbine, which are also microtubule inhibitors. Another class of microtubule-acting
anticancer drugs contains the epothilones. Epothilones A and B are naturally occurring
16-membered macrolides, which are produced by the myxobacterium Myxococcus
xanthus or Sorangium cellulosum. Another natural product that acts on tubulin is called
eribulin. It was isolated from the Pacific sponge and it inhibits the polymerization of
tubulin. The root bark of the Combretum caffrum tree is the source of combretastatin,
which another natural inhibitor of tubulin polymerization. Another drug that binds to
microtubules is called Maytansine. It disrupts microtubule assembly.
Microtubules, Taxol, Taxotere, Epothilones.
Adjunct Assistant Professor Park University and Consultant Science Advisor United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) USA