Navigation Links
From carnivorous plants to the medicine cabinet?
Date:2/18/2010

In the tropics, carnivorous plants trap unsuspecting prey in a cavity filled with liquid known as a "pitcher."

The moment insects like flies, ants and beetles fall into a pitcher, the plant's enzymes are activated and begin dissolving their new meal, obtaining nutrients such as carbon and nitrogen which are difficult to extract from certain soils. Carnivorous plants also possess a highly developed set of compounds and secondary metabolites to aid in their survival.

These compounds could serve as a new class of anti-fungal drugs for use in human medicine, says Prof. Aviah Zilberstein of Tel Aviv University's Department of Plant Sciences. In a study conducted together with Dr. Haviva Eilenberg from her lab, Prof. Esther Segal from Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Prof. Shmuel Carmeli from the School of Chemistry, the unusual components from the plants' pitchers were found effective as anti-fungal drugs against human fungal infections widespread in hospitals. The primary results are encouraging.

"To avoid sharing precious food resources with other micro-organisms such as fungi, the carnivorous plant has developed a host of agents that act as natural anti-fungal agents," says Prof. Zilberstein. "In the natural habitat of the tropics, competition for food is fierce, and the hot, moist environment is perfect for fungi, which would also love to eat the plant's insect meal."

Highly resistant and 100% organic

After initial tests of the plant proteins and enzymes that dissolve the chitin of fungi, Prof. Zilberstein assumes that, in the right clinical conditions, the pitcher secondary metabolites can be developed to effective anti-fungal drugs, that may avoid the evolution of new resistant infective strains.

The collaborating team has just published a paper exploring that potential in the Journal of Experimental Biology, based on the biology of the carnivorous plant Nepenthes khasiana. This plant species is originally found in India but is also being reared in Tel Aviv University greenhouses.

Currently there is a need for additional broadly effective anti-fungal drugs. Even mildly severe forms of athlete's foot or other skin fungal infections lack effective treatments. The problem becomes more dire at hospitals, where thousands of Americans die each year from secondary fungal infections they acquire during their stay as patients.

Forging a "wild" pathway in drug discovery

The collaborating team has determined plant secondary metabolites that function as anti-fungal agents. "The pitcher of the carnivorous plant produces these compounds in a gland," says Prof. Zilberstein. Until now, no one has published or discussed the anti-fungal metabolites found in the trap liquid of this plant, she says.

"We're hoping that these metabolites are working together to keep fungus at bay. Our aim now is to get funding for pre-clinical tests of these compounds in an animal model, so we can investigate their effectiveness against the two very acute fungal pathogens found in hospitals worldwide," she says.

The idea that liquid from a plant pitcher could stave off infection has been documented in the folk literature of India, where people drink carnivorous plant pitcher juice as a general elixir. "There is a lot of room for developing compounds from nature into new drugs," says Prof. Zilberstein. "The one we are working on is not toxic to humans. Now we hope to show how this very natural product can be further developed as a means to overcome some basic problems in hospitals all over the world."


'/>"/>

Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Emory paleontologist reports discovery of carnivorous dinosaur tracks in Australia
2. Carnivorous plants use pitchers of slimy saliva to catch their prey
3. Scientists think killer petunias should join the ranks of carnivorous plants
4. Layered approach may yield stronger, more successful bone implants
5. Clever plants chat over their own network
6. Plants can be used to study how and why people respond differently to drugs
7. Book on weeds and invasive plants discusses how to manage them using ecological approaches
8. A greenhouse in order to study the impact of climate change on plants
9. Agent that triggers immune response in plants is uncovered
10. Scientists ramp up ability of poplar plants to disarm toxic pollutants
11. A new baseline of invasive plants in Isabela
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/20/2017)... ALLENTOWN, Pa. , March 20, 2017 ... PD 2.0 personal spirometer and Wellness Management System (WMS), ... Founded in 2010, PMD Healthcare is a ... Company with a mission dedicated to creating innovative solutions ... of life. With that intent focus, PMD developed the ...
(Date:3/7/2017)... Brandwatch , the leading social intelligence company, today announces that it ... insights to support its reporting, help direct future campaigns, and share ... charity will be using Brandwatch Analytics social listening and analytics technology ... the topics and issues that are a priority for its supporters. ... "Until recently we,ve ...
(Date:3/2/2017)... LONDON , March 2, 2017 Who ... infringement lawsuits? Download the full report: https://www.reportbuyer.com/product/4313699/ ... ON THE FINGERPRINT SENSOR FIELD? Fingerprint sensors using ... smartphones. The fingerprint sensor vendor Idex forecasts an increase ... in mobile devices and of the fingerprint sensor market ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/23/2017)... Colo. , March 23, 2017  GlobeImmune, Inc. ... agreement for the sale of 12,835,490 shares of its ... NantWorks  ecosystem of companies. In connection with the sale of ... $100,000 in cash and issue to GlobeImmune 200,000 shares, ... stock. "We are pleased to enter ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... NEW YORK , March 23, 2017 ... ... causes of death, putting significant strain on health care systems, ... of cancer diagnoses rises, so too does the development of ... with minimum side effects. Among the many types of cancer ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... ... March 23, 2017 , ... Advanced ... the hire of Dr. Sigmund “Sig” Floyd as Vice President ? Global Business ... joint development activities. , “Dr. Floyd’s career has spanned 30 years in the ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... , March 22, 2017  UBM and ... to announce their extended partnership and the third ... headlined by the 21 st Annual MassMEDIC ... taking place May 3-4, 2017. ... Technology Association (ADVAMED) President and CEO, Scott ...
Breaking Biology Technology: