Visit the
Molecular Expressions Website

Galleria
Photo Gallery
Silicon Zoo
Chip Shots
Screen Savers
Museum
Web Resources
Primer
Java Microscopy
Win Wallpaper
Mac Wallpaper
Publications
Custom Photos
Image Use
Contact Us
Search
Home

Polarized Light Digital Image Gallery

Taxol (Paclitaxel)

Taxol is a member of the antineoplastic (anticancer) class of chemicals that is used to combat the proliferation of cancer. The primary focus of Taxol is treatment of ovarian and breast cancer by stopping mitosis when other avenues of chemotherapy have failed. Originally extracted from the bark of the endangered Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia, this wonder drug led to quite a controversy in the environmental community, because it meant the death of four trees to produce enough taxol for a single human dose.

View a second image of taxol.

Ironically, the Pacific yew was previously considered a nuisance plant species by foresters and was discovered coexisting in the same Northwestern United States forests that harbor the endangered spotted owl. Then, Dr. Robert Holton of Florida State University developed a synthetic pathway for creating Taxol from the needles of the more common English yew to produce the first economical synthetic pathway to the drug. Another chemical synthesis of taxol using a 37-step process was elucidated by Dr. Paul Wender at Stanford University. It starts with verbenone, derived from pinene, a common ingredient in turpentine, but is too complicated and expensive for commercial production of the anticancer drug. Recently, taxol was discovered in hazelnut trees and their nuts.

Alzheimer's disease, polycystic kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, Kaposi's sarcoma, and some forms of lung cancer also seem to respond to treatment with paclitaxel (the pharmaceutical name for taxol). Research continues on economically feasible synthetic production of this invaluable cancer-fighter.

Contributing Authors

Omar Alvarado, Thomas J. Fellers and Michael W. Davidson - National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, 1800 East Paul Dirac Dr., The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, 32310.


BACK TO THE POLARIZED LIGHT IMAGE GALLERY

BACK TO THE DIGITAL IMAGE GALLERIES

Questions or comments? Send us an email.
© 1995-2013 by Michael W. Davidson and The Florida State University. All Rights Reserved. No images, graphics, software, scripts, or applets may be reproduced or used in any manner without permission from the copyright holders. Use of this website means you agree to all of the Legal Terms and Conditions set forth by the owners.
This website is maintained by our
Graphics & Web Programming Team
in collaboration with Optical Microscopy at the
National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.
Last Modification Friday, Aug 01, 2003 at 10:43 AM
Access Count Since September 17, 2002: 5999
Visit the website of our partner in introductory microscopy education: