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Computer graphic of a molecule of taxol

Computer graphic of a molecule of taxol

A624/0069

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Credit

LAGUNA DESIGN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY LAGUNA DESIGN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Taxol. Computer graphic of a molecule of taxol, an anti-cancer drug. The atoms and their bonds are colour-coded: carbon (C, dark blue); hydrogen (H, white); oxygen (O, red); nitrogen (N, light blue). Taxol has a chemical formula of C47H51NO14. It is found in the bark of the Pacific Yew tree, Taxus brevifolia, and can also be artificially synthesised. Taxol is particularly effective against advanced breast and ovarian cancer. The drug works by inducing the protein tubulin to form microtubules, important structures involved in cell division (mitosis). The presence of taxol stabilises the microtubules, disrupting mitosis in the rapidly-dividing cancer cells.

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