The power of taxane-based chemotherapy drugs are misunderstood and potentially underestimated, according to researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College writing in the September 15, 2012 issue of Cancer Research. Most physicians and investigators believe that taxane chemotherapy (paclitaxel, docetaxel, and cabazitaxel) just does one thing -- stop a cancer cell from dividing -- but the team of Weill Cornell scientists have revealed it acts much more powerfully and broadly, especially against prostate cancer. "Taxanes are one of the best class of chemotherapy drugs that we can use to treat our cancer patients, but while they are effective against a wide range of tumors, they don't work in all of them, and often patients become resistant," says the study's senior investigator, Dr. Paraskevi Giannakakou, an associate professor of pharmacology in medicine and pharmacology and director of laboratory research for the Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Weill Cornell. "However, our new understanding of the precise action of taxanes in a cancer cell may help us overcome drug insensitivity or acquired resistance to the drugs and design therapies that can be used in combination with them to improve cancer control." In their report, the researchers stress that investigators must shift their attention away from taxane's function during cell division to the drugs' effects on halting the everyday movement of proteins and protein-to-protein communication within cancer cells -- and to understanding how and why a cancer cell can still survive.
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