Abraxane is the tradename for the drug agent known as Nab-paclitaxel which was derived from the drug paclitaxel (sold as Taxol). Paclitaxel is one of the taxane family of drugs and is approved for the treatment of a number of cancers including, those of the breast, lung, and other solid tumors. Nab-paclitaxel is a formulation of paclitaxel that is attached to albumin which alters the metabolism, efficacy and side-effects profile of the underlying agent.

Paclitaxel was discovered in 1962 by a U.S. NCI (funded) drug screening effort, and was later assiduously harvested from the bark of Taxus brevifolia, The Pacific (or western) yew tree, a confer located in the Pacific Northwest area of the U.S. and Canada. Since the mid to late 90s, it has been manufactured synthetically.

The mechanism of action of Paclitaxel is the inhibition of microtubules necessary for mitosis and thus slowing or stopping cell growth.

Abraxane was developed by the biotech firm Calgene. On September 6, 2013, Abraxane in combination with gemcitabine was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of metastatic pancreatic cancer.

We have commented on the use of Abraxane in the treatment pancreatic cancer in the Pancreatica Blog: Here and Here.