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Paclitaxel is a chemotherapy drug used in treating many types of cancer, including those of the ovaries, breasts, lungs and pancreas. It works by interfering with the breakdown of microtubules during cell division.
Originally obtained from the endangered Pacific Yew tree, it has since been found in more sustainable forest products. However, although efforts have been made to synthesize the drug from plentiful materials, it has to date resisted attempts at total synthetic production.