Mitosis: Using a toxic compound from the yew tree in cancer therapy

Time to complete course: 46 min.

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About Mitosis: Using a toxic compound from the yew tree in cancer therapy Virtual Lab Simulation

How can a toxic compound be used in medicine? Paclitaxel, isolated from yew trees, can kill large animals like horses but is also used in cancer therapy. In this simulation, you will learn how cells divide and how they are affected by poisonous paclitaxel. 

How is DNA packaged?

Start by diving into a blood sample to find out how DNA is packaged in an immersive animation of the cell. Find the DNA inside the nucleus and then zoom in from the chromosomes all the way into individual nucleotides. 

Use microscopy to study mitosis

Understand the different stages of mitosis through interactive graphics and quiz questions. Then, prepare a sample of onion cells to observe the phases of mitosis and find out how each phase contributes to the successful duplication of the cell. By now, you will understand enough about mitosis to replicate the process in a computer model. 

Test the effects of paclitaxel

Finally, combine all your new skills and knowledge to test the effect of paclitaxel on cultured cells. Will the compound inhibit or accelerate cell division? How will it affect cancer cells or animals who eat the yew tree?

Get Started Now

Join a cell biology research group to find out how a poisonous compound from a yew tree can be used in cancer therapy. You will be immersed in an animation of a human cell and use light and fluorescence microscopy to study cell division.

Techniques in Lab

  • Sample preparation
  • Light microscopy
  • Fluorescence microscopy

Learning Objectives

At the end of this simulation, you will be able to…

  • Understand and visualize basic concepts about eukaryotic cells such as main cellular components and DNA packaging by immersive animations
  • Understand the key characteristics of the cell cycle´s different stages: interphase (G1, S and G2) and mitosis
  • Use different microscopy techniques to observe the phases of the mitosis and describe their main characteristics:
    • Prophase
    • Metaphase
    • Anaphase
    • Telophase
  • Understand the cell cycle checkpoints and the molecules that control them (cyclins and cyclin-dependent kinases)
  • List the main differences between mitosis and meiosis

Simulation Features

Length – 46 minutes
Accessibility mode – Available
Languages – English, Danish, French, German, Spanish, Italian

Examples of Related Standards


Life Science related 1st year onwards




1.6 Cell Division


Topic 4.6: Cell Cycle

Screenshots of Mitosis: Using a toxic compound from the yew tree in cancer therapy Virtual Lab Simulation


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