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What Is Protein-Bound Paclitaxel Used For?

Part of a class of drugs known as taxanes, protein-bound paclitaxel is used for the treatment of certain types of breast, lung, and pancreatic cancer. "Off-label" uses can include the treatment of several other types of cancer, including ovarian and bladder cancer.

An Overview of Protein-Bound Paclitaxel Uses

Protein-bound paclitaxel (Abraxane®) is a prescription medication used for the treatment of breast cancer, lung cancer, and pancreatic cancer. It is part of a group of medications called taxanes. Specifically, protein-bound paclitaxel is approved in the following situations:
 
  • For metastatic breast cancer (cancer that has spread to other parts of the body) that has failed to respond to other chemotherapy medications.
     
  • For breast cancer that has returned within six months of adjuvant chemotherapy (chemotherapy after breast cancer surgery).
 
  • In combination with carboplatin to treat inoperable non-small cell lung cancer that has spread, either to the surrounding tissues or to other parts of the body, in cases when radiation is not an option.
  • In combination with gemcitabine to treat metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas.

How Does Protein-Bound Paclitaxel Work?

Protein-bound paclitaxel is part of a group of medications called taxanes. These medicines stop cancer cells from growing and multiplying by interfering with certain structures in the cell.
 
While protein-bound paclitaxel can kill both healthy and cancerous cells, it has a greater effect on cells that are multiplying rapidly. Generally, cancer cells multiply more rapidly than healthy cells and are, therefore, more affected by protein-bound paclitaxel.
 
Protein-bound paclitaxel is a new form of paclitaxel. Paclitaxel does not dissolve well and requires solvents in order to be dissolved and injected. These solvents can cause irritation and allergic reactions. Protein-bound paclitaxel is a new form of paclitaxel that is, as the name implies, bound to albumin (a protein normally found in the body). Paclitaxel that is bound to albumin dissolves more easily, and solvents are not needed. This makes protein-bound paclitaxel much less irritating than solvent-based paclitaxel. It also means that protein-bound paclitaxel can be injected more quickly than solvent-based paclitaxel.
 
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Information on Protein-Bound Paclitaxel

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