10 thoughts on “S3 – Martindale

  1. What is the quantifiable difference between producing paclitaxel synthetically compared to its natural production? Are current lab methods able to produce a “useful” quantity of the drug for cancer treatment or are we still relying on plants?

    1. Currently, lab methods are not able to produce enough of the drug to be considered useful for cancer treatment. There has been some success recreating the pathway in bacteria and yeast, but the lack of plant-specific enzymes in those organisms makes it difficult to effectively produce paclitaxel, thus why we’re trying to produce it in a fast-growing, high biomass plant (soybeans). Scientists found that the bark of a 40-foot tall Pacific yew tree (which likely took about 200 years to grow) produced half a gram of Taxol. It takes on average six 100-year old yew trees to treat a single patient, therefore there’s a need for the development of more sustainable production methods.

    1. Mass spectrometry is a technique that measures the mass-to-charge ratio of ions. Basically, it creates a graph with peaks where each peak represents the presence of a specific substance. By doing mass spectrometry with our transformed soybeans, we would hope to see a peak representing taxadiene, which would prove that our engineered soybeans successfully produced taxadiene.

  2. In your further directions, after the soybeans are transformed with the engineered plasmids what further results would hoped to be obtained by this?

    1. We would hope to see production of taxadiene, the precursor to paclitaxel, in the transformed soybeans. This would show that we successfully recreated the paclitaxel pathway in soybeans. We would analyze the presence of taxadiene through gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, which are analytical techniques that can determine whether specific substances are or aren’t present the soybeans.

    2. We would hope to see production of taxadiene, a precursor to paclitaxel, in our soybeans. This would prove that we successfully recreated the paclitaxel pathway in a soybean plant. We would determine the presence of taxadiene through gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, which are analytical techniques that show what specific substances are present in a sample, the sample being the transformed soybean.

    1. Paclitaxel keeps cancer cells from dividing (thus stopping cancer from growing) by stabilizing microtubules so they don’t disassemble. Microtubules are necessary for the mitotic spindle which segregates replicated DNA to the 2 daughter cells during cell division. If the microtubules can’t disassemble, or shrink, the DNA won’t be pulled apart for the daughter cells.

  3. I really enjoyed your presentation, you explained everything very well. I was wondering how different transforming soybeans in comparison to E. coli?

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