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Definition of Anthracycline

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Anthracycline: A member of a family of chemotherapy drugs that are also antibiotics. The anthracyclines act to prevent cell division by disrupting the structure of the DNA and terminate its function. They do so in two ways: (1) they intercalate into the base pairs in the DNA minor grooves; and (2) they cause free radical damage of the ribose in the DNA. The anthracyclines are frequently used in leukemia therapy. The anthracyclines include daunorubicin (Cerubidine), doxorubicin (Adriamycin, Rubex), epirubicin (Ellence, Pharmorubicin), and idarubicin (Idamycin).

Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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