The American Chemical Society designated the discovery of camptothecin
and Taxol® at the Research Triangle Institute a National Historic
Chemical Landmark on April 23, 2003. The plaque commemorating the event
The research team of Monroe E. Wall, Mansukh C. Wani, and colleagues
discovered two life-saving anticancer agents from natural products.
In 1966, they reported the first of these, Camptothecin, from the Chinese
tree Camptotheca acuminata. In 1971, they reported the structure
of Taxol from the Pacific yew, Taxus brevifolia. These natural
products were isolated by a novel bioactivity-directed fractionation
of the crude plant extracts. Both of these compounds kill cancer cells
by unique and previously unknown mechanisms of action, and together
they have been approved for treatment of ovarian, breast, lung, and
colon cancers and Kaposi's sarcoma.