In the past decade, taxanes have gained notoriety as promising chemotherapeutic agents against different forms of cancer. These molecules were initially characterized as mitotic inhibitors, and their anti-neoplastic actions were attributed to their ability to suppress cellular division via microtubule stabilization. Less appreciated is the observation that taxanes induce other biological effects, especially in the immune system. For example, taxanes are immunostimulatory against neoplasms, supporting the idea that these agents suppress cancer through several mechanisms and not solely through inhibiting cell division. In addition, these drugs potentially regulate other aspects of immune function, such as lymphocyte activation, giving further support to their immunomodulatory capacity. In summary, taxanes effect multiple actions and potentially have greater therapeutic application beyond cancer chemotherapy.
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