docetaxel (taxotere) Report issue

Small molecule Approved FDA Accelerated Approval FDA Priority Review FDA

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Docetaxel was protected by patents (U.S. patent and European patent) which were owned by Sanofi-Aventis, and so was available only under the Taxotere brand name internationally. The European patent expired in 2010. Docetaxel is a clinically well-established anti-mitotic chemotherapy medication used for the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer after failure of prior chemotherapy. Also used as a single agent in the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer after failure of prior platinum-based chemotherapy. It is also used in combination with prednisone, in the treatment of patients with androgen independent (hormone refractory) metastatic prostate cancer. Furthermore, docetaxel has uses in the treatment of gastric adenocarcinoma and head and neck cancer. Docetaxel interferes with the normal function of microtubule growth. Whereas drugs like colchicine cause the depolymerization of microtubules in vivo, docetaxel arrests their function by having the opposite effect; it hyper-stabilizes their structure. This destroys the cell's ability to use its cytoskeleton in a flexible manner. Specifically, docetaxel binds to the β-subunit of tubulin. Tubulin is the "building block" of mictotubules, and the binding of docetaxel locks these building blocks in place. The resulting microtubule/docetaxel complex does not have the ability to disassemble. This adversely affects cell function because the shortening and lengthening of microtubules (termed dynamic instability) is necessary for their function as a transportation highway for the cell. Chromosomes, for example, rely upon this property of microtubules during mitosis. Further research has indicated that docetaxel induces programmed cell death (apoptosis) in cancer cells by binding to an apoptosis stopping protein called Bcl-2 (B-cell leukemia 2) and thus arresting its function.   NCATS