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Biologics. 2008 Dec;2(4):789-811.

Novel microtubule-targeting agents - the epothilones.

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Monter Cancer Center, North Shore - LIJ Health Systems, Lake Success, New York, USA.


Epothilones are a new class of antimicrotubule agents currently in clinical trials. Their chemical structures are distinct from taxanes and are more amenable to synthetic modification. Six epothilones have been studied in preclinical and clinical trials: patupilone (epothilone B), ixabepilone (BMS247550), BMS 310705, sagopilone (ZK-EPO), KOS-862 (epothilone D), and KOS-1584. In vitro data have shown increased potency in taxane-sensitive and taxane-resistant cancer cell lines. This enhanced cytotoxic effect has been attributed to epothilone being a poor substrate for p-glycoprotein drug resistance protein and having high affinity to the various beta tubulin isoforms. Phase I clinical data have shown different dose-limiting toxicities for each of the epothilones. These effects are drug specific, dose specific, and schedule of administration specific. While diarrhea and myelosuppression are the dose-limiting toxicities for patupilone and BMS 310705, respectively, neurologic toxicity, as seen with taxanes, is the dose-limiting toxicity of ixabepilone, sagopilone, and KOS-862. In an effort to decrease neurologic toxicity, investigators have modified dosing schedules with limited success. Ixabepilone has the most mature clinical results with published phase II and III data, and regulatory approval for clinical use in the treatment of breast cancer. Ixabepilone has also been combined with other anticancer agents and has regulatory approval in combination with capecitabine for heavily treated breast cancer.


epothilones; ixabepilone; microtubule-targeting agents; taxanes

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