Researchers have isolated and grown stem cells from a yew tree whose bark is a natural source of the anticancer compound paclitaxel. The development could enable the compound to be produced on a commercial scale at low cost, with no harmful by-products.
Scientists and engineers behind the development say the drug treatment – currently used on lung, ovarian, breast, head and neck cancer – could become cheaper and more widely available. The study was carried out by the University of Edinburgh and the Unhwa Biotech company in Korea.
Currently, an extract from yew tree bark is used to industrially manufacture the compound paclitaxel. However, this process is expensive, requires supplies of mature trees, and creates environmentally damaging by-products.
Researchers claim that using stem cells – self-renewing tree cells which can be manipulated to produce large amounts of the active compound – would effectively create an abundant supply of the drug. The process would cost far less than conventional methods.
Scientists behind the project have also cultured stem cells from other plants with medical applications, indicating that the technique could be used to manufacture other important pharmaceuticals besides paclitaxel.
The study was published in Nature Biotechnology and supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
Professor Gary Loake, of the University of Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences, who led/took part in the study, said: "Plants are a rich source of medicine – around one in four drugs in use today is derived from plants. Our findings could deliver a low-cost, clean and safe way to harness the healing power of plants, potentially helping to treat cancer, and other conditions."
Catriona Kelly | EurekAlert!
For a chimpanzee, one good turn deserves another
27.06.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik in den Naturwissenschaften (MPIMIS)
New method to rapidly map the 'social networks' of proteins
27.06.2017 | Salk Institute
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
27.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
27.06.2017 | Information Technology
27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy