8 thoughts on “S4 – Stinemetze

  1. Why specifically soy beans? I know you said the ease at which they can be grown, but molecularly what was the driving factor for the choice?

    1. Hi David. Good question. The short answer is that Dr. DeDecker, our professor, has done previous work with soybeans. I think what is attractive about soybeans besides the fact that they are a commercial crop is that they can be so easily transfected in the lab. That is, the beans themselves can be transfected, ground up, and analyzed through gas chromotography. So at least for these early steps–the demonstration of concept–we don’t even have to grow the plant itself. I think this is the key issue. Molecularly, I don’t know that there is anything special about soybeans, other than they are compatible with some of the cytochrome P450 chemistry that is part of this pathway. Thanks for the question.

  2. How long do you think it would take to perform full synthesis of Taxol, in terms of completing all 20 pathways?

    1. Many moons. But actually, I should clarify. Full synthesis in the lab was first done in 1993 and to date has been done by about 10 labs. It’s very complicated but can be done–both from the very first steps, and also jumping into the pathway in the middle by harvesting the substrate at that point from the Yew tree and completing the remaining steps in the lab. What has not yet been done is to produce taxol synthetically from a plant (as opposed to a beaker). And since our lab literally dealt with the first 2 steps of the pathway, out of 19, you can see that we have a long way to go before we’re going to be ‘growing’ taxol in a field. Thanks for the question.

  3. How long do you think it would take to complete the full synthesis of Taxol, in terms of finishing all 20 pathways?

    1. I believe this is a duplicate question. So the answer is the same as above. I’m optimistic that it might be done within 10 years, at least as a demonstration of concept. Whether that would be in a commercially viable way…that’s another question.

  4. How difficult is it to perform the full synthesis of Taxol in the lab? If the synthesis pathway is incredibly time consuming and involved, is there ways to address this drawback of the research process?

    1. The answer is, ‘extremely difficult’. But it can be done. I believe 10 labs, but perhaps up to 30, have done it to date using various approaches. I believe all the medicinal taxol is produced in the lab–at very low yield and very high cost. Bristol-Myers Squibb originally had a patent on it, as did some European companies. I’m not sure what the current status is on patents. Are “there ways to address” the complexity of the pathways via research? I’m sure there are many people at this very moment trying to answer that question. If you’re into organic chemistry, it is a very interesting problem to solve. Thanks for the question.

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