Anti-Microtubule Drugs. Academic Article uri icon


  • Small molecule drugs that target microtubules (MTs), many of them natural products, have long been important tools in the MT field. Indeed, tubulin (Tb) was discovered, in part, as the protein binding partner of colchicine. Several anti-MT drug classes also have important medical uses, notably colchicine, which is used to treat gout, familial Mediterranean fever (FMF), and pericarditis, and the vinca alkaloids and taxanes, which are used to treat cancer. Anti-MT drugs have in common that they bind specifically to Tb in the dimer, MT or some other form. However, their effects on polymerization dynamics and on the human body differ markedly. Here we briefly review the most-studied molecules, and comment on their uses in basic research and medicine. Our focus is on practical applications of different anti-MT drugs in the laboratory, and key points that users should be aware of when designing experiments. We also touch on interesting unsolved problems, particularly in the area of medical applications. In our opinion, the mechanism by which any MT drug cures or treats any disease is still unsolved, despite decades of research. Solving this problem for particular drug-disease combinations might open new uses for old drugs, or provide insights into novel routes for treatment.

publication date

  • 2016