MesotheliomaWeb.Org is an important source of news and information for patients and their families who are impacted by mesothelioma. Malignant mesothelioma is a form of cancer that targets the band of protective tissue around the lungs. MesotheliomaWeb.Org provides readers with the latest news articles on scientific research efforts, treatment technologies, and new breakthroughs on this deadly disease.
Chemotherapy treatments function by altering the processes that cause healthy cells to mutate into malignant cancer. Doctors classify these drugs according to the point in the process when they react to the cell’s chemistry. Chemotherapy drugs can be cell-cycle specific, meaning that they work during particular phases of the cell’s life cycle. They can also be cell-cycle non-specific, implying that they work at any point in the process.
Chemotherapy drugs are also categorized according to their chemical agents and how they affect the cell’s life processes. Here is a list of some of the major chemotherapy categories.
Alkylating agents act on the DNA itself. These agents keep the cellular division of cancer cells from happening by affecting the DNA’s double-helix chains. These drugs are also effective throughout the cell’s life cycle.
Antimetabolites, such as Methotraxate, work by slowing down cell division by depriving cancer cells of enzymes that they need to survive. Folic acid, often found in vitamin supplements, is a common antimetabolite used in cancer therapies.
Anthracyclines function by creating chemicals called “free radicals”. Free radicals can cause DNA strands to fail, suppressing cell functions such as self-healing and reproduction. Anthracyclines have proven effective in treating breast cancer, leukemia and lymphoma, among other forms of cancer.
Antitumor antibiotics work much the same way as anthracyclines, in that they form free radicals to break down the DNA strands in cancer cells. Doctors typically combine antitumor antibiotics with other chemotherapy medications as part of a treatment plan.
Monoclonal antibodies target specific types of tumors. They use the body’s own immune system to target cancerous cells. Monoclonals are effective in combating certain types of lymphoma and leukemia.
Chemotherapy drugs with the metal platinum are often used in the treatment of mesothelioma. Cisplatin, one of the first platinum-based compounds, has been in use since the 1970s.
Plant alkaloids are cell-cycle specific treatments. The cell cycle of the cancer dictates which alkaloid will fit the treatment regimen. Plant alkaloids come in four categories, listed below.
Topoisomerases are enzymes that allow the DNA molecule to control how it reacts to proteins. Topoisomerase inhibitors prevent cancer cells from interacting with proteins, which can halt cell growth and reproduction.
Vinca alkaloids come from the Vinca rosea (periwinkle) plant. These chemotherapy agents are often used to treat leukemia. A side effect from these drugs is nerve and brain damage from neurotoxicity.
Taxanes are extracted from Yew tree bark. These agents have been effective against a wide range of cancers, including those of the breast, prostate and lungs.
Epipodophyllotoxins are extracted from the American May Apple tree. They stop the reproduction of DNA in particular phases of the cell’s life cycle.
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