Health and Medicine

Drugs and Medicines

What are some medications that have been obtained from rain forest plants, animals, and microorganisms?

Drug Medicinal Use Source
Allantoin Wound healer Blowfly larva
Atropine High blood pressure Bee venom
Cocaine Analgesic Coca bush
Cortisone Anti-inflammatory Mexican yam
Cytarabine Leukemia Sponge
Diosgenin Birth control Mexican yam
Erythromycin Antibiotic Bacterium
Morphine Analgesic Opium poppy
Quinine Malaria Chincona tree bark
Reserpine Hypertension Rauwolfia plant
Tetracycline Antibiotic Bacterium
Vinblastine Hodgkin’s disease and leukemia Rosy periwinkle plant

From what plant is taxol extracted?

Taxol is produced from the bark of the western or Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia). It has been shown to inhibit the growth of HeLa cells (human cancer cells) and is a promising new treatment for several kinds of cancer. Originally it was a scarce drug, but in 1994 two groups of researchers announced its synthesis. The synthesis is a formidable challenge, and better procedures and modifications remain to be developed. Since taxol is developed now from needles instead of tree bark, the natural source is more available, but the synthetic version will be needed to devise modified or “designer” taxols whose cancer-fighting ability may prove more effective.


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