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|Pacific Yew Bulletin > Taxol Background|
When Taxol was found to have anti-cancer properties by the American Cancer Institute, the yew trees were very much in demand because yew trees are slow growing trees. Removing bark of yew trees will directly damage the yew trees and even will reduce more yew trees in the future supply.
Intense research was being carried out to produce a commercial alternative to alleviate the supply problem. One way was to develop a semi-synthesis process to produce Taxol, and the second way was to find out a total synthesis process to meet the huge market demand, the third way is to make cultivated callus cell obtained from Taxus tree.
One compound in yew tree was found in the yew trees needles (tips) that was considered as bio-renewable source. The compound sometimes is referred as of the the family of Taxane by some chemists. The Taxane compound (1-deacetyl baccatin III) was extracted from yew trees, and went through a semi-synthesis process to produce Taxol. This is the current practice in the pharmaceutical industry leaded by Bristol Myers Squibb, and its medication product name is Paclitaxel.
Four total syntheses have been completed to date. They are:
Biotechnologists have obtained Taxol from cultivated callus cell of Taxus tree.
This area of research hopes to cultivate the Taxol producing cells and speed up their production.
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