Taxol is isolated from the plant Taxus brevifolia or Taxus cuspidate (family Taxaceae). In this genus, there are eight different species present in the northern hemisphere. Taxol was isolated from the trunk of Taxus brevifolia but the yield was very low (0.01%). That means a plant with 100 years old produces 3 kg bark (or 300 mg taxol). Generally, 1 Kg taxol will be isolated from seven tons of dried bark. The content of taxol in the leaves is comparatively more (as much as 0.1%). The drying process of the plant is very much related to the content of taxol. The drying should be done at 40-50°C.

Structure of Taxol, Taxus brevifolia plant
Fig.1: Structure of Taxol, Taxus brevifolia plant

Production of Taxol

Put the dried powder of the leaves of the plant in the rotary extractor. Extract the leaves with ethanol with gentle agitation and rotation at 40-45°C. Concentrate the extract and repeat the same process two more times so that the active constituents are completely extracted from the leaves. Separate all the extract and leave the residue. This extract is distributed with four-time methanol and then treated with hexane to remove the pigment and fatty materials. Extract this solvent with chloroform through liquid-liquid extraction. Concentrate the chloroform extract and perform the column chromatography of this residue using chloroform and methanol as mobile phase and column of silica gel G to segregate different taxanes. The last purification is done by HPLC using Hexane: ethyl acetate (1:1) as solvent system.

Estimation of Taxol

Weight around 0.125 gm of the drug in a conical flask and add 25 ml water add 50 ml of 0.83 M potassium permagnate and add 100 ml of sulphuric acid. Boil the solution and then cool it and transfer it to a volumetric flask. The solution is distilled with water to 250 ml. From this solution separate the 50 mi solution and add 1 M of ferrous ammonium sulfate. Perform blank and make the necessary correction.

Each ml of 0.1M Fe(NH4)2SO4 ≡ 0.000675Gm of drugs.

Thermospray ionization HPLC-MS

The analysis was performed using a triple-stage quadrupole mass spectrometer with a TSP2 interface

  • Source blank temperature: 230°C
  • Vaporizer temperature: 70°C
  • Repeller Voltage: 30 V
  • Discharge on mode: 1800 V

Instrument scanned from m/z 300 to m/z1000. The mobile phase used in HPLC is H2O:MeCN: MeOH (85:5:10) using flow rate 1ml/min. Dissolve the sample in methanol at a concentration of 1mg/ml.

Utilization of Taxol

Taxol inhibits the polymerization of tubulin similar to podophyllotoxin and vincristine. It was used to treat ovarian tumors and other cancer. Taxol can be dispensed at the rate of 135-175mg/m2 depending on the indication. Infuse the drug after every three weeks with proper premedication. The toxicity produce by the treatment of taxol is neutropenia, peripheral neuropathy, cardiovascular problems, vomiting, alopecia, nausea, hypersensitivity, etc.

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