Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia ) is a common tree in the coniferous forest understory of western North America, along the coastal ranges. It spreads from southeastern Alaska to northern California aas well as in the southern Canadian Rockies to central Idaho and neighboring Montana.
Milestone in Pacific yew-related research
- 1963: researchers at the National Cancer Institute demonstrated that a bark extract of Pacific yew showed activity against certain cancer-cell tissue cultures
- 1966: Dr. Monroe Wall isolated the active principle, taxol
- 1971: Molecular structure of taxol was published in;
- 1977: Researchers determined that taxol inhibits replication of human tumor cells by arresting the division of microtubules, minute cellular organelles vital to cell division
- 1990: clinical trials using Taxol® have succeeded in treating advanced ovarian and breast cancers
- 1993: US government, in collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb, supported the production of 25 kilograms of taxol, it is enough to treat 12,000 patients
This incredible species has been included in the list of medical plants at risk of extinction; over exploitation and deforestion threat pacific yew in some region.