Biocatalysis of Bioactive Taxanes


Executive Summary


Chemotherapy drugs are critical for effective patient cancer care. Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical industry has encountered several instances where it has not been able to supply sufficient quantities of important chemotherapy drugs due to manufacturing problems. Michigan State University researchers have discovered a novel, faster way of producing producing important drugs such as paclitaxel (Taxol®), cabazitaxel (Jevtana®) and docetaxel (Taxotere®) using biocatalysis. The process allows a more streamlined and faster in vitro synthesis that allows quickly ramp up the production during shortages, ensuring the pharmaceutical supply.


Description of Technology


The technology involves a key enzyme, Tyrocidine Synthetase A (TycA: PheAT), which catalyzes the production of phenylisoserinyl CoA thioester, a key precursor to anti-cancer taxane drugs. A second enzyme, phenylpropanoyltransferase (BAPT), is used with PheAT in an enzyme cascade reaction to produce further taxane intermediates. This biocatalysis method provides a simple, streamlined in vitro enzymatic process for the production of taxane drugs such as cabazitaxel (Jevtana®), docetaxel (Taxotere®), as well as paclitaxel (Taxol®). Water-based buffer steps reduce use of petroleum-based solvents such as hexanes and tetrahydrofuran. The method also eliminates the use of pyrophoric reagents such as n-butyllithium in the production of cabazitaxel. Lab scale production yields have shown far greater results than the calculated theoretical yields.


Key Benefits

  • More efficient, faster, and more flexible synthesis of paclitaxel and related anti-cancer drugs
  • More streamlined production process
  • Controlled environment, in vitro synthesis possible
  • No harsh organic solvents used, greener production



  • Cancer drugs (breast, ovarian, lung, esophageal, pancreatic, bladder, prostate colon, stomach, etc.) 
  • Commercial potential for experimental precursors in research market


Patent Status:


Issued patents US 9,732,365; US 10,501,764


Licensing Rights Available


Full licensing rights available





Feb 2017 Biochemistry article

Oct 2017 Biochemistry article


Inventors: Dr. Kevin Walker


Tech ID: TEC2012-0076

Patent Information:


For Information, Contact:

Jon Debling
Technology Manager
Michigan State University
Kevin Walker