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.
- 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
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About the Author
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.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.
Table of Contents
1: Co-constructing the Past for a History of the Chemistry of Natural Substances
2: The Institut de chimie des substances naturelles of the CNRS (1955–2000): Emblematic of an Evolving Area of Research?
3: From Catharanthus roseus Alkaloids to the Discovery of Vinorelbine (Navelbine®)
4: From the Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia) to the English Yew (Taxus baccata): Steps Towards the Discovery of Docetaxel (Taxotere®)