Hazel and other sources of paclitaxel and related compounds

Mariangela Miele, Anna Maria Mumot, Achille Zappa, Paolo Romano, Laura Ottaggio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Taxanes form a large family of compounds, the most famous of which is paclitaxel, an effective antitumor drug currently used against various cancers. First approved for the treatment of ovarian and breast cancer, it was subsequently endorsed for the treatment of many other cancer pathologies. Originally extracted from the bark of Taxus brevifolia, it has also been found in other Taxus species. Most of the drug for clinical use is currently produced by semi-synthesis, starting from a natural precursor, 10-deacetylbaccatin III recovered from the needles of Taxus baccata. The yield of paclitaxel and its precursors from yew is very low, and is not sufficient to satisfy the commercial requirements. Many attempts have been made to explore new paclitaxel-producing species including microorganisms. However, the availability of paclitaxel and related compounds is still low. The discovery of taxanes in differentiated and undifferentiated tissue of Corylus avellana suggested that the production of these compounds is not a peculiarity of the genus Taxus, giving hope for the future availability of these compounds. Here we review works aimed at exploring new paclitaxel-producing organisms with different ecology to Taxus plants. Particular focus has been placed on highlighting the discovery of taxanes in angiosperm plants. Thus, it is conceivable that, by developing appropriate methodologies, new plant species could be employed for the commercial production of paclitaxel and other antineoplastic compounds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-225
Number of pages15
JournalPhytochemistry Reviews
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


  • Angiosperms
  • Anticancer drugs
  • Antimitotic compounds
  • Corylus avellana
  • Taxanes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Biotechnology


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