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Navelbine® and Taxotère® - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9781785481451, 9780081011379

Navelbine® and Taxotère®

1st Edition

Histories of Sciences

Authors: Muriel Le Roux Françoise Gueritte
Hardcover ISBN: 9781785481451
eBook ISBN: 9780081011379
Imprint: ISTE Press - Elsevier
Published Date: 22nd November 2016
Page Count: 260
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Among the many forms of cancer treatment, chemotherapy remains an important part of the arsenal in which Navelbine and Taxotere play a major role.
These medicines result from molecules discovered by French researchers of the Institut de Chimie des Substances Naturelles (ICSN) of the CNRS, directed by Pierre Potier. By recounting this history, the authors of this book attempt to illustrate how the work of themselves and others, united in a community, has helped obtain these results. After having explained the strategy of the French policy makers to promote the French chemistry of natural substances, the authors explore how the academic efforts in this field have evolved, and the alignment between science and its applications has become increasingly present. The contributions of the CNRS to the industry, and vice versa, offer an alternative image of public research relationships and industrial research, where CNRS researchers are able to extend the limits of freedom and creativity. It is to account for this complexity that the authors here have chosen to write this history together, which is in a sense exemplary.
Due to an association between history and chemistry, this book explains these discoveries by placing them in their specific politic, economic and scientific contexts.

Key Features

  • Provides an overview of how the French research system facilitated the discovery of the two molecules, Navelbine and Taxotere, and their anticancer activity
  • Based on a collaboration between a chemist and an historian of science, technology and innovation
  • Offers a unique perspective, bringing together the specific knowledge and skills of chemistry and history
  • Embeds chemistry in the general history thereby opening a window on science in action


Chemists, scientists, industrialists, business executives, historians of science, epistemologists, policy makers

Table of Contents

  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgements
  • Foreword
  • 1: Co-constructing the Past for a History of the Chemistry of Natural Substances
    • Abstract
    • 1.1 A convergence
    • 1.2 “A small world”
    • 1.3 Incomplete sources on the history of the chemistry of natural substances?
    • 1.4 An original way of telling the history of chemistry: “a compagnonnage”
  • 2: The Institut de chimie des substances naturelles of the CNRS (1955–2000): Emblematic of an Evolving Area of Research?
    • Abstract
    • 2.1 Research in France and the CNRS: ambivalent sentiments?
    • 2.2 Chemistry at the CNRS
    • 2.3 The ICSN: a place for discovery (from 1955 to the 2000s)
    • 2.4 “Science is a social and political act”: Pierre Potier (1934–2006)
  • 3: From Catharanthus roseus Alkaloids to the Discovery of Vinorelbine (Navelbine®)
    • Abstract
    • 3.1 Catharanthus roseus: botany, herbaria, empirical medicine
    • 3.2 Bisindolic alkaloids of Catharanthus roseus (1950s–60s)
    • 3.3 Studies conducted at the ICSN: modified Polonovski reaction and chemical studies of Catharanthus (1960s–1970s)
    • 3.4 Studies conducted at the ICSN: semisynthesis of alkaloids such as vinblastine – biological activity and biosynthesis (1970s–1980s)
    • 3.5 From anhydrovinblastine to leurosine, leurosidine, vinblastine and the discovery of vinorelbine
  • 4: From the Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia) to the English Yew (Taxus baccata): Steps Towards the Discovery of Docetaxel (Taxotere®)
    • Abstract
    • 4.1 The common yew, Taxus baccata
    • 4.2 From the Pacific yew, Taxus brevifolia, to Taxol®, an anti-cancer molecule with a new mechanism of action
    • 4.3 Phytochemical studies carried out at the ICSN: discovery of 10-deacetylbaccatin III in the natural state (1980s)
    • 4.4 Steps toward the first semisynthesis of 10-deacetyltaxol, of taxol and discovery of a highly active analog by the aminohydroxylation reaction
    • 4.5 Second semisynthesis of taxol by a convergent process
    • 4.6 A step toward the development of 56 976 R.P., which was to become Taxotere®
  • From Science to Industry: the Full Story?
  • Bibliography
  • Index


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© ISTE Press - Elsevier 2016
22nd November 2016
ISTE Press - Elsevier
Hardcover ISBN:
eBook ISBN:

About the Authors

Muriel Le Roux

Muriel Le Roux is a historian at the CNRS, at the Institut d’histoire moderne et contemporaine, a joint laboratory between the CNRS, the Ecole Normale Superieure and Paris 1 University. She heads the Committee for the History of the French Post Office. Her research interests include the history of science, technology and business.

Affiliations and Expertise

Senior Researcher, IHMC-CNRS – ENS

Françoise Gueritte

Françoise Gueritte was a chemist and INSERM senior researcher at ICSN/CNRS until her retirement in 2013. She obtained her doctorate from the University of Paris XI, and her research interests have included organic chemistry and medicinal chemistry of bioactive natural substances, particularly antitumor compounds.

Affiliations and Expertise

Research Director INSERM (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale); Team manager of the “Pôle Substance Naturelle-Plantes” at ICSN (Institut de Chimie des Substances Naturelles) – CNRS (Centre national de la Recherche Scientifique)

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