Thursday, October 31, 2013

Organic Chemistry at Work

Like a few others, the organic compound Taxol came to mind since it is one of the chemo agents we use at my work. I work on the Oncology floor at Forsyth Medical Center, and time and time again we use the chemotherapy drug of Paclitaxel, or better know as Taxol.

When taxol is given as an injection, it is a thick, clear to yellow solution that is administered intravenously in hopes of decreasing the size of a tumor. It is commonly used in treated breast, ovarian, lung, and brain cancer. It can also be used in situations related to AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma. Kaposi's sarcoma is a tumor that is caused by the human herpesvirus 8 (HHV8), and it is found in the skin and mucous membranes. In certain patients populations, Taxol is also used for: cancer of the bladder, cancer of the cervix, cancer of the endometrium, cancer of the esophagus, cancer of the fallopian tube or lining of the abdomen (spreading from the ovary), cancers of the head and neck, prostate cancer, stomach cancer, cancer of the testes, and cancers with an unknown primary site.
Paclitaxel itself however, is a white to off-white crystalline powder with the molecular formula C47H51NO14 and a molecular weight of 853.9. It is very lipophilic, meaning that is is easily soluble in fats and lipids, and insoluble in water. It also has a melting point of around 216-217° C.

Taxol was first extracted in 1971 from the bark of the Pacific Yew, a conifer found in the Northwest of the United States.

Overall, I find Taxol to be a fascinating organic compound since so many of my patients use it as a form of chemotherapy and it is directly involved in my work.
Chapter 3: Stereochemistry & Chirality.

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