chemotherapy drugs | Drug Designing: Open Access


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Chemotherapy is an invasive treatment that can have severe adverse effects both during the therapy and for some time after. This is because the drugs often target both cancer cells and healthy cells.The side-effects and long-term sequelae of anti-cancer chemotherapy remain a major source of concern for both patients and clinicians despite the improved efficacy and enhanced survival offered by modern treatments. Current drugs or other approaches to counteract chemotherapy-induced adverse effects are often incompletely effective, frequently do not address potential longer-term sequelae or may even induce other side-effects which only add to patient discomfort. New approaches to improve tolerance and reduce sequelae of cancer chemotherapy are urgently needed and the present Research Topic focuses on this issue and highlights several areas of progress.

In the early 1900s, the famous German chemist Paul Ehrlich set about developing drugs to treat infectious diseases. He was the one who coined the term “chemotherapy” and defined it as the use of chemicals to treat disease. He was also the first person to document the effectiveness of animal models to screen a series of chemicals for their potential activity against diseases, an accomplishment that had major ramifications for cancer drug development. In 1908, his use of the rabbit model for syphilis led to the development of arsenicals to treat this disease. Ehrlich was also interested in drugs to treat cancer, including aniline dyes and the first primitive alkylating agents, but apparently was not optimistic about the chance for success. The laboratory where this work was done had a sign over the door that read, “Give up all hope oh ye who enter.”

Surgery and radiotherapy dominated the field of cancer therapy into the 1960s until it became clear that cure rates after ever more radical local treatments had plateaued at about 33% due to the presence of heretofore-unappreciated micrometastases and new data showed that combination chemotherapy could cure patients with various advanced cancers. The latter observation opened up the opportunity to apply drugs in conjunction with surgery and/or radiation treatments to deal with the issue of micrometastases, initially in breast cancer patients, and the field of adjuvant chemotherapy was born. Combined modality treatment, the tailoring of each of the three modalities so their antitumor effect could be maximized with minimal toxicity to normal tissues, then became standard clinical practice

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