A University of Portland chemist thinks she can squeeze more taxol, a cancer-fighting drug, from the Pacific yew tree.
If the efforts of Sister Angela Hoffman succeed, the supply of the scarce drug would increase while the need to harvest so much yew tree bark would decrease.
Hoffman, an assistant professor of chemistry, has shown that fingersized yew cuttings will export taxol to liquid in which cuttings are placed.
“If we transfer taxol into the liquid,” she said, “we can extract it much more easily than grinding down bark and needles.”
Her research is in a second phase, which will determine whether the yew cuttings are manufacturing fresh taxol or excreting existing supplies.
She will feed yew plants a radioactive version of the material necessary to naturally synthesize taxol.
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