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(Science: drug) This alkaloid is an extract from the Pacific yew, Taxus brevifolia.

It inhibits microtubule disassembly and is used as a chemotherapy agent (under the brand name Taxol) to treat bladder, oesophageal and lung cancers and is being investigated as a treatment for leukaemia and lymphoma.

The effects of paclitaxel are biphasic. At lower concentrations (depending on cell type), it hyperstabilizes microtubules, whereas at higher concentrations it is a hyperpolymerizing agent.