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ISRN Pharmacol. 2012;2012:623139. doi: 10.5402/2012/623139. Epub 2012 Aug 12.

Designing Paclitaxel drug delivery systems aimed at improved patient outcomes: current status and challenges.

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  • 1College of Pharmacy, Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID 83201, USA.


Paclitaxel is one of the most widely used and effective antineoplastic agents derived from natural sources. It has a wide spectrum of antitumor activity, particularly against ovarian cancer, breast cancer, nonsmall cell lung cancer, head and neck tumors, Kaposi's sarcoma, and urologic malignancies. It is a highly lipophilic compound with a log P value of 3.96 and very poor aqueous solubility of less than 0.01 mg/mL. In addition, the compound lacks functional groups that are ionizable which could potentially lead to an increase in its solubility with the alteration in pH. Therefore, the delivery of paclitaxel is associated with substantial challenges. Until the introduction of Abraxane, only commercial formulation was solution of paclitaxel in cremophor, which caused severe side effects. However, in recent years, a number of approaches have been reported to solubilize paclitaxel using cosolvents and inclusion complexes. In addition, innovative approaches have been reported for passive targeting of tumors using nanoparticles, nanosuspensions, liposomes, emulsions, micelles, implants, pastes and gels. All approaches for delivery of improved therapeutic outcome have been discussed in this paper.

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