Cancer Home > BiCNU

BiCNU is a medicine used in the treatment of various types of cancer, including brain tumors, multiple myeloma, and certain lymphoma. This prescription chemotherapy drug comes in the form of a powder that is mixed with liquid and injected slowly into a vein. It works by interfering with how DNA strands replicate, preventing cancer cells from growing and multiplying.

What Is BiCNU?

BiCNU® (carmustine) is a prescription chemotherapy medication. It is approved to treat certain types of cancer, including:
BiCNU belongs to a group of medicines known as alkylating agents. There are several different types of alkylating agents. BiCNU is in a class of alkylating agents known as nitrosoureas.
This medicine contains the active drug carmustine. Carmustine is sometimes referred to as BCNU, because its chemical name is bis-chloroethylnitrosourea.
Carmustine is also available as an implant, Gliadel® (carmustine implant). The implant is approved to treat certain types of brain tumors and is surgically inserted into the brain after a brain tumor is removed.
(Click BiCNU Uses for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes This Medication?

BiCNU is made by Ben Venue Laboratories, Inc., or Emcure Pharmaceuticals, Ltd., for Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.

How Does It Work?

BiCNU belongs to a group of medications called alkylating agents. In general, alkylating agents transfer a piece of their structure, called an alkyl group, to DNA. This causes the strands of DNA to bond to each other and become linked (known as "cross-linking"). The linked strands are unable to uncoil and separate, which is necessary for the DNA to replicate.
Because DNA replication is essential for cells to grow and multiply, alkylating medications like BiCNU prevent cells from growing and multiplying.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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