The Role of Chemistry in History

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Introduction to Paclitaxel

April 15th, 2008 · No Comments ·

Introduction to Paclitaxel | From Tree to Taxol | Paclitaxel and Cancer Treatment | Inside Paclitaxel: Physical Characteristics | Paclitaxel: Effective or Too Costly? | Paclitaxel’s Affect on History | History’s Affect on Paclitaxel | References

Paclitaxel, a derivative of the pacific yew tree Taxus brevifolia, is a remarkably effective but controversial cancer treatmenting drug. The history associated with paclitaxel is one of a tremendous battle between three groups: environmentalists, who lobby for an alternate way of creating the drug; scientists, who feel the drug is particuarily effective on breast and ovarian cancers; and congressmen, who juggle the two sides in a perpetual game of ethics. Removing paclitaxel from external politics and ethics, the drug is effective because it is a mitotic inhibitor, that stops the growth of the cancer cell through hyper-stabilization of the cell. The paclitaxel injection strongly affects rapidly reproducing cancer cells because the drug is particuarily effective at disrupting the cell division in both the cytoskeleton of the cell and by docking at the specific protein responsible for cell building. Paclitaxel’s effectiveness, though controversial in its development, is key to the history of cancer treatment over the past 50 years and is a drug of remarkable dimensions, both histroically and biochemically.

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