Faculty Advisor

Roberts, Susan Celia


The Taxus cell cultures primarily used in the Roberts laboratory are twenty-five years old and have limited production of the specialized metabolite, paclitaxel, approved for the treatment of a variety of cancers, presumably due to high levels of global DNA methylation. This project focuses on initiation of new cell cultures for comparison to the old cultures and examines the relationship between the culture’s global DNA methylation and paclitaxel production levels to culture age. In addition, experiments were designed to use a demethylating agent, 5-azacytidine, to understand its effect on global DNA methylation and paclitaxel production. It was proven that media 2 and 4 resulted in the highest calli initiation percentage from Taxus needles, and media 1 and T were optimal for maintenance.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Date Accepted

March 2018


Chemical Engineering

Project Type

Major Qualifying Project



Advisor Department

Chemical Engineering