Discovery of Anti-Cancer Chemistry Makes Skull Cap Fit for Modern Medicine – ScienceDaily


The evolutionary secrets that enable the medicinal herb known as skullcap to produce cancer-fighting compounds have been revealed through a collaboration between British and Chinese researchers.

The CEPAMS collaboration used DNA sequencing technology to assemble the genetic sequence of skullcap (scutellaria barbata) Known in China as Banzhilian.

This gave the researchers the genetic information — a micro-evolutionary history — needed to determine how the plant produces the compound scotebarbatin A, which works against a range of cancer cells.

Professor Cathy Martin, group leader at the John Innes Centre, and one of the study’s authors, said, “We found that the protometabolite has activity against cancer cells but not non-cancerous cells which is particularly important for an anti-cancer metabolite. Now we are looking to develop synthetic methods to produce More lead compounds.”

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), to isolate the medicinal chemistry from the plant, the herb is boiled in water for two hours and then the extract is dried to produce a powder and taken as a decoction (concentrated liquid). Genes that make up the biochemical pathway behind the herb’s anti-cancer activity, researchers are getting closer to being able to manufacture greater amounts of the compounds more quickly and sustainably using a host like yeast.

Research that appears in the journal molecular plant It is led by CEPAMS, a partnership between the John Innes Center and the Chinese Academy of Sciences and supported by the Royal Society.

“This is a fascinating collaboration on the development of interesting drugs driven from natural resources and shows the practical value of focusing on the microevolution of species,” said Professor Martin.

The Skullcap genus has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine to treat various medical conditions. Clinical work has shown that preparations are dependent on Scutellaria barbata During chemotherapy can reduce the risk of metastasis.

Head of CEPAMS Group Shanghai Dr. Evangelos Tatsis said: “Natural products have always been the main vehicles for the discovery of new drugs. By following the path of traditional Chinese plants, we can develop new anti-cancer drugs and this research marks a crucial step in this direction.”

Traditional medicines extracted from plants have long been used to provide clues for new drug discovery, and plant natural products such as vinblastine and taxol are used clinically as anti-cancer drugs.

Traditional Chinese medicine is one of the systems best indexed with empirical information about the therapeutic properties of herbal remedies.

Anti-cancer drugs obtained from traditional Chinese medicine have higher efficacy than synthetic chemical drugs and have less toxic side effects. Genomes of the medical skullcaps reveal the multicellular origins of clerodane diterpene biosynthesis in the family Laminiaceae, published in molecular plant



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