What are cytostatics?Cytostatics are toxins that suppress the growth and division of cells. In chemotherapy, physicians used this property of cytostatic drugs.
Cytostatic agents (singular: cytostatic) are substances that inhibit or inhibit cell growth. The effect is either at the stage of cell division (mitosis) or during the growth phase between the divisions. Generally speaking, these are cell poisons.
The term "cytostatic" is used predominantly where it comes to the destruction of higher cells. This refers to organisms that have large cells with nucleus and chromosomes. However, some cytostatics affect all cell types, including lower life forms such as bacteria. Special agents that kill microorganisms are commonly referred to as antibiotics, although they are also cytostatic in the literal sense. (The other way around, you could also call cytostatics antibiotics.)
Cytostatic agents are widely known as drugs in the context of chemotherapy in malignant tumors (malignant tumors). But also for the treatment of other diseases are cytotoxic drugs.
Application, effect & use
Cytostatic agents begin at the cellular level at various sites. Some prevent the regular structure of the cytoskeleton. These are the finest protein strands that contribute to mechanical stabilization inside the cell. Some cytostatics prevent the correct duplication of the genetic molecule, the DNA. Others interfere with the distribution of chromosomes on the daughter cells during cell division. Some cytostatics suppress the protein metabolism in the cells, which makes cell division impossible due to lack of mass.
Cytostatic agents primarily target tissue types in which rapid cell growth occurs at high rates of division. Because this is the case in tumors, cytotoxic drugs work specifically - but unfortunately not exclusively - on cancer cells. The use of cytostatics in chemotherapy is preferably after surgery. Despite the removal of the visible tumor, the smallest daughter tumors (metastases) can remain in the body. In the operating area, even individual cells can be shed off and found a new growth. To completely eliminate these residues, the cytostatic agents are used.
Another indication of cytostatics are autoimmune diseases. These are malfunctions of the immune system, which attacks the body's own substance for unknown reasons. The work of our immune system is associated with a high production rate of leukocytes (white blood cells). For this reason, cytostatics also act as immunosuppressants, which shut down an excessive body defenses. However, this is a relatively unused potential of cytotoxic drugs.
Herbal, natural and pharmaceutical cytostatics
Cytostatics are mostly organic, rarely inorganic substances. Most of these compounds are synthesized.
Sometimes they are nature-identical agents with plant-based role models. The spectrum of cytostatics is so extensive that a practical classification is difficult even for professionals. The classification of molecular mechanisms of action has become increasingly accepted, but it partly ignores the affiliations to the chemical substance classes.
Noteworthy are the phytomedical aspects of cytostatic drugs in chemotherapy. Thus, with the poison of the Herbstzeitlosen attempts were made in the treatment of cancer. Colchicine (Colchicum: "Herbstzeitlose") could not prove itself here, but the cell division blocker is prescribed for gout. Other herbal agents actually work against tumors such as topotecan from the Chinese Lucky Tree (Camptotheca) or paclitaxel from yew (Taxus).
In contrast, the purely inorganic cytostatic agents include the platinum compounds cisplatin. The substance attaches to the DNA and thereby stops cell division. Some cytotoxic drugs were originally developed as anti-infection drugs and should inhibit bacterial growth. Then the cancer-relevant chemotherapy proved to be the actual indication of these cytostatic drugs.
Risks & Side Effects
Cytostatics have serious side effects due to their aggressive properties. Above all, the organs are affected, in which a high cell division activity prevails. The constantly renewing intestinal mucosa is therefore affected by the effect of cytostatics.
The result is the sometimes enormous nausea during chemotherapy. A high mitosis rate is also recorded in the bone marrow. Therefore, the formation of erythrocytes is impaired as well as the production of white blood cells. Anemia (anemia) and a weakened immune system is the result. Also serious are the mutagenic (genotype-altering) properties of the cytostatics. Even the development of cancer can be a side effect of acute life-saving chemotherapy.
Less serious is the side effect of hair loss. Hair is dead cells stacked on top of each other. As a result, hair growth requires constant cell division. Therefore, the effect of the cytostatics unfolds here as well.