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Discovery of Camptothecin and Taxol®

Location: Rockville, MD, USA
Date: 1966
Creator(s): Wani, Mansukh, Wall, Monroe

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.

Era: 1950s
Innovation designated by:
Discovery of Camptothecin and Taxol
Courtesy ACS
Mansukh C. Wani
Research Triangle Institute
6110 Executive Blvd # 902
Rockville, MD, USA

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