Paclitaxel, sold under the brand name Taxol among others, is a chemotherapy medication used to treat a number of types of cancer. This includes ovarian cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, Kaposi sarcoma, cervical cancer and it is given by injection into a vein. There is also an albumin bound formulation, common side effects include hair loss, bone marrow suppression, numbness, allergic reactions, muscle pains, and diarrhea. Other serious side effects include heart problems, increased risk of infection, use during pregnancy may result in harm to the baby. Paclitaxel is in the family of medications. It works by interference with the function of microtubules during cell division. Paclitaxel was first isolated in 1971 from the Pacific yew and approved for use in 1993. It is on the World Health Organizations List of Essential Medicines, the wholesale cost in the developing world is about 7.06 to 13.48 USD per 100 mg vial. This amount in the United Kingdom costs the NHS about 66.85 pounds and it is now manufactured by cell culture. Paclitaxel is approved in the UK for ovarian, breast and lung, bladder, prostate, melanoma, esophageal, in September 2006, NICE recommended paclitaxel should not be used in the adjuvant treatment of early node-positive breast cancer. In 2005, its use in the United States for the treatment of breast, pancreatic, albumin-bound paclitaxel is an alternative formulation where paclitaxel is bound to albumin nano-particles. Much of the toxicity of paclitaxel is associated with the solvent Cremophor EL in which it is dissolved for delivery. Abraxis BioScience developed Abraxane, in which paclitaxel is bonded to albumin as a delivery agent to the often toxic solvent delivery method. Synthetic approaches to paclitaxel production led to the development of docetaxel, docetaxel has a similar set of clinical uses to paclitaxel and is marketed under the name of Taxotere. Recently the presence of taxanes including paclitaxel, 10-deacetylbaccatin III, baccatin III, paclitaxel C, the finding of these compounds in shells, which are considered discarded material and are mass-produced by many food industries, is of interest for the future availability of paclitaxel. Paclitaxel drug eluting coated stents for coronary artery placement are sold under the trade name Taxus by Boston Scientific in the United States, Paclitaxel drug eluting coated stents for femoropopliteal artery placement are sold under the trade name Zilver PTX by Cook Medical, Inc. Dexamethasone is given prior to beginning paclitaxel treatment to some of the side effects. Leuprolide, a GnRH analog, has suggested on the basis of studies in mice
Undisturbed Pacific yew bark contains paclitaxel and related chemicals.
The bark is peeled and processed to provide paclitaxel.