Cancer-fighting Taxol's source is no longer the bark of yew trees

Originally extracted from the bark of the Pacific yew tree, after 34 years of research, (Taxus brevifolia), paclitaxel-or Taxol®-is the number one cancer fighting drug in the world today. Additionally, in a triumph for cancer survivors as well as the environment, Taxol's source is no longer the bark of yew trees.

Taxol is now considered a standard of care in the treatment of breast and ovarian cancer. Clinical trials have demonstrated that Taxol, when combined with a drug containing platinum, as initial chemotherapy to treat advanced ovarian cancer, increased patient survival by an average of 13 months. Taxol also is used in the treatment of breast cancer when other therapies have failed. Researchers continue to explore the potential benefits of Taxol in treating a variety of different tumors.

Early research using Taxol was limited by a restricted supply due to difficulties in obtaining the bulk substances from which the drug is produced. Originally, Taxol production processes required the bark of six yew trees to treat one patient for a year. In an effort to increase the availability of Taxol for patient care and reduce the environmental impact, scientists invented a semi-synthetic form of the drug. Today, semi-synthetic Taxol is produced from the needles and twigs of Taxus baccata plants, a renewable resource.

Since 1992, Taxol has made history by helping literally hundreds of thousands of breast and ovarian cancer patients live longer and better lives. (NAPSI)

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