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Taxol And What It Will Do

On December 9, 1993, Florida State University chemists won the international race to achieve the first total synthesis of the cancer-fighting drug Taxol. After several years of work, a team of scientists led by Professor Robert Holton Synthesized the drug, starting with camphor, an inexpensive commodity chemical. In May 1991, Holton received a patent to partially synthesize the compound using, in part, a substance extracted from leaves of the English Yew, a cousin to the Pacific yew. That process has been industrialized, so yew trees on public lands are no longer killed to obtain taxol for cancer treatment.

From 1993 to 1998, the licensing agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb generated approximately $83. 5 million in royalties for Florida State University. Dr. Holton received 40 percent of all royalties.

Source: FSU Media Relations 1994-1998; Tallahassee Democrat September 5, 1998.

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