Skip to main content
Discovery of Camptothecin and Taxol
Main Category
Sub Category
Date Created
Research Triangle Institute
6110 Executive Blvd # 902

Monroe Wall, Mansukh Wani and colleagues at the Natural Products Laboratory of the Research Triangle Institute discovered and elucidated the structure Taxol®and camptothecin, two life-saving compounds for the treatment of cancer. These natural products kill cancer cells via unique mechanisms of action and in ways scientists had not previously imagined. The work of this research team led to the eventual development and marketing of drugs that have been approved for treatment of ovarian, breast, lung, and colon cancer and Kaposi’s sarcoma.

The plaque commemorating the discovery reads:

The research team of Monroe E. Wall, Mansukh C. Wani, and colleagues discovered two life-saving anticancer agents from natural products. In 1966, they reported the first of these, Camptothecin, from the Chinese tree Camptotheca acuminata. In 1971, they reported the structure of Taxol from the Pacific yew, Taxus brevifolia. These natural products were isolated by a novel bioactivity-directed fractionation of the crude plant extracts. Both of these compounds kill cancer cells by unique and previously unknown mechanisms of action, and together they have been approved for treatment of ovarian, breast, lung, and colon cancers and Kaposi's sarcoma.

Image Credit
Courtesy ACS
Image Caption
Mansukh C. Wani

We hope you enjoyed this essay.

Please support America's only magazine of the history of engineering and innovation, and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to Invention & Technology.


Stay informed - subscribe to our newsletter.
The subscriber's email address.