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With Taxol, chromosomes divide and get conquered

New mechanism discovered for decades-old cancer drug

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4:29pm, March 26, 2014

MIXED UP  Human breast cancer cells from women treated with the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel abnormally split into more than two cells (shown in a micrograph, with alpha-tubulin, a protein involved in cell division, in red and DNA in blue). The progeny cells have jumbled chromosomes and tend to die.

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A popular cancer drug has previously undiscovered tricks up its sleeve.

The best-selling chemotherapy drug paclitaxel (Taxol) treats breast, lung, ovarian and other cancers. Animal studies and experiments on human cells in lab dishes had suggested the drug worked by freezing cells in the act of dividing. But those studies used drug doses much higher than tumor cells in a patient’s body would encounter.

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