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Concept: Taxus baccata


The taxanes (paclitaxel and docetaxel) represent an important class of antineoplastic agents that interfere with microtubule function leading to altered mitosis and cellular death. Paclitaxel (Taxol(®)) was originally extracted from a yew tree (Taxus spp., Taxaceae) a small slow-growing evergreen, coniferous tree. Due to the initial scarcity of paclitaxel, docetaxel (Taxotere(®)) a semisynthetic analog of paclitaxel produced from the needles of European yew tree, Taxus baccata was developed. Docetaxel differs from paclitaxel in two positions in its chemical structure and this small alteration makes it more water soluble. Today, paclitaxel and docetaxel are widely prescribed antineoplastic agents for a broad range of malignancies including lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma, squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, gastric cancer, esophageal cancer, bladder cancer, and other carcinomas. Although very active clinically, paclitaxel and docetaxel have several clinical problems including poor drug solubility, serious dose-limiting toxicities such as myelosuppression, peripheral sensory neuropathy, allergic reactions, and eventual development of drug resistance. A number of these side effects have been associated with the solvents used for dilution of these antineoplastic agents: Cremophor EL for paclitaxel and polysorbate 80 for docetaxel. In addition, reports have linked these solvents to the alterations in paclitaxel and docetaxel pharmacokinetic profiles. In this review, we provide preclinical and clinical data on several novel taxanes formulations and analogs which are currently US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved or in clinical development in various solid tumor malignancies. Of the new taxanes nab-paclitaxel and cabazitaxel have enjoyed clinical success and are FDA-approved; while many of the other compounds described in this review are unlikely to be further developed for clinical use in daily practice. Furthermore, the successful clinical emergence of novel nontaxane microtubule-targeting chemotherapy agents such as epothilones and eribulin is liable to further restrict the development of novel taxanes.

Concepts: Cancer, Metastasis, Lung cancer, Chemotherapy, Squamous cell carcinoma, Paclitaxel, Taxus, Taxus baccata


This paper describes two fatalities, three non-fatal intentional and three accidental oral ingestions of yew (Taxus baccata) leaves. In all cases the post-mortem external examinations showed no signs of violence. Internal examinations revealed small green, needle-like particles on the tongue, in the esophagus and in the stomach. Yew leaves were also identified in the stomach contents, whereas Taxus leaves were cut into small pieces and then ingested in one case. The analytical method used was based on a liquid-liquid-extraction under alkaline conditions followed by LC-MS/MS analysis (QTRAP 5500). Chromatographic separation was achieved by HPLC on a Kinetex C18 2.6u (100×3)mm. The analytical method allows the simultaneous identification and quantification of the commercially available yew alkaloids taxoids (m/z): paclitaxel (854.2→105.0/286.1), 10-deacetyltaxol (10-DAT: 812.2→105.0/286.1), baccatin III (BAC III: 604.0→105.0/327.0), 10-deacetylbaccatin III (10-DAB III: 562.1→105.0/327.0), cephalomannine [taxol B] (562.1→105.0/327.0) and of 3,5-dimethoxyphenol (3,5-DMP: 155.0→111.9/122.9) also encompassing the qualitative analysis of the alkaloidal diterpenoids (Q1→194.0/107.0); reference mass spectra obtained from a yew leaves extract: monoacetyltaxine (MAT: 568.4), taxine B (584.2), monohydroxydiacetyltaxine (MHDAT: 626.4), triacetyltaxine (TAT: 652.4), monohydroxytriacetyltaxine (MHTAT: 668.4). In both fatalities, paclitaxel, 10-DAT and cephalomannine were not identified in urine, cardiac and femoral blood but all taxoids and 3,5-DMP were present in stomach content and excreted into the bile. In urine, highest 3,5-DMP concentration was 7500μg/L and 23,000μg/L after enzymatic hydrolysis, respectively. In intentional and accidental poisonings, when electrocardiogram (ECG) examinations revealed ventricular tachycardia and/or prolonged QRS intervals, taxines were identified in plasma/serum, even after the ingestion of a few number of yew leaves, when 3,5-dimethoxyphenol was not even found. According to the data from one near-fatal intentional poisoning, elimination half-life of MAT, TAXIN B, MHDAT and MHTAT in serum was calculated with 11-13h and taxines were detected up to t=+122h post-ingestion of approximately two handfuls of yew leaves.

Concepts: Ingestion, Digestive system, Stomach, Chromatography, Ventricular fibrillation, Electrocardiography, Taxus, Taxus baccata


The yew (Taxus baccata) is a common evergreen tree containing the toxin taxine B. Between 42 and 91 g of yew leaf is lethal to a 70-kg adult. The objective of this article is to present an overview of findings in fatal yew intoxications.

Concepts: Pinophyta, Deciduous, Evergreen, Taxus baccata, Thuja plicata


Taxus baccata L. is an evergreen conifer whose plant parts are cardiotoxic. Only the red arils of the berries are described as non-toxic and taxane-free.

Concepts: Tree, Seed, Plant morphology, Pinophyta, Taxus, Evergreen, Taxus baccata, Aril


The natural concentration of the anticancer drug Taxol is about 0.02% in yew trees, whereas that of its analogue 7-β-xylosyl-10-deacetyltaxol is up to 0.5%. While this compound is not an intermediate in Taxol biosynthetic route, it can be converted into Taxol by de-glycosylation and acetylation. Here, we improve the catalytic efficiency of 10-deacetylbaccatin III-10-O-acetyltransferase (DBAT) of Taxus towards 10-deacetyltaxol, a de-glycosylated derivative of 7-β-xylosyl-10-deacetyltaxol to generate Taxol using mutagenesis. We generate a three-dimensional structure of DBAT and identify its active site using alanine scanning and design a double DBAT mutant (DBAT(G38R/F301V)) with a catalytic efficiency approximately six times higher than that of the wild-type. We combine this mutant with a β-xylosidase to obtain an in vitro one-pot conversion of 7-β-xylosyl-10-deacetyltaxol to Taxol yielding 0.64 mg ml(-1) Taxol in 50 ml at 15 h. This approach represents a promising environmentally friendly alternative for Taxol production from an abundant analogue.

Concepts: Gene, Improve, Chemotherapy, In vitro, Taxane, Environmentally friendly, Fitness approximation, Taxus baccata


Genetic markers used in combination with network analysis can characterize the fine spatial pattern of seed dispersal and assess the differential contribution of dispersers. As a case study, we focus on the seed dispersal service provided by a small guild of frugivorous birds to the common yew, Taxus baccata L., in southern Spain. We build the spatial networks of seed dispersal events between trees and seed-plots within the studied population-local network-and the spatial network that includes all dispersal events-regional network. Such networks are structured in well-defined modules, i.e. groups of tightly connected mother trees and seed-plots. Neither geographical distance, nor microhabitat type explained this modular structure, but when long-distance dispersal events are incorporated in the network it shows a relative increase in overall modularity. Independent field observations suggested the co-occurrence of two complementary groups, short- and long-distance dispersers, mostly contributing to the local and regional seed rain, respectively. The main long-distance disperser at our site, Turdus viscivorus, preferentially visits the most productive trees, thus shaping the seed rain at the landscape scale and affecting the local modular organization. We end by discussing how DNA barcoding could serve to better quantify the role of functional diversity.

Concepts: Scientific method, Species, Plant, Tree, Plant morphology, Seed dispersal, Taxus, Taxus baccata


Alkaloids, nitrogen-containing secondary plant metabolites, are of major interest to veterinary toxicology because of their occurrence in plant species commonly involved in animal poisoning. Based on epidemiological data, the poisoning of cattle and horses by alkaloid-containing plants is a relatively common occurrence in Europe. Poisoning may occur when the plants contaminate hay or silage or when forage alternatives are unavailable. Cattle and horses are particularly at risk of poisoning by Colchicum autumnale (meadow saffron), Conium maculatum (poison hemlock), Datura stramonium (jimson weed), Equisetum palustre (marsh horsetail), Senecio spp. (ragwort and groundsel) and Taxus baccata (European yew). This review of poisonous alkaloid-containing plants describes the distribution of these plants, conditions under which poisoning occurs, active toxic principles involved and subsequent clinical signs observed.

Concepts: Poison, Atropine, Medicinal plants, Datura stramonium, Taxus baccata, Conium, Poisonous plants, Equisetum palustre


Due to an unfortunate turn of events, the funding note for Open Access publication was not properly provided in the original publication. Hence, the original article has been corrected. The opening line of the Acknowledgement section should read.

Concepts: Open source, Opening, Taxus, Taxus baccata


Yew plants are evergreen shrubs which are widely spread throughout the northern hemisphere. Taxane alkaloid derivatives, mainly taxine B, represent the main toxins of Taxus baccata and are highly cardiotoxic. Due to the lack of randomized clinical trials, case reports on accidental or suicidal yew intoxications build the only source of knowledge of clinical treatment options.

Concepts: Clinical trial, The Canon of Medicine, Pharmaceutical industry, Clinical research, Equator, Southern Hemisphere, Taxus, Taxus baccata


The endophytic Trichoderma atroviridae UB-LMA was isolated as a symbiont of Taxus baccata and analyzed for its antimicrobial activity. By applying an original approach consisting of solid-state cultivation coupled with solid-phase extraction, a new methyl (R,E)-3-(1-hydroxy-4-oxocyclopent-2-en-1-yl)-acrylate derivative named EA-2801 (1) was isolated together with the previously reported isonitrin A and dermadin methyl ester. The chemical structure of 1 was determined by NMR and MS. Compound 1 showed antimicrobial activity against a panel of Gram-positive and -negative bacteria.The Journal of Antibiotics advance online publication, 20 September 2017; doi:10.1038/ja.2017.107.

Concepts: Bacteria, Fungus, Chemistry, Chemical element, Chemical compound, Chemical structure, Methyl acetate, Taxus baccata