Navigation Links
Insect warning colors aid cancer and tropical disease drug discovery
Date:7/8/2008

Brightly colored beetles or butterfly larvae nibbling on a plant may signal the presence of chemical compounds active against cancer cell lines and tropical parasitic diseases, according to researchers at Smithsonian's Tropical Research Institute in Panama. Such clues could speed drug discovery and provide insight into the ecological relationships between tropical-forest plants and insects that feed on them. The report is published in the Ecological Society of America's journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

"These findings are incredibly exciting and important," said Todd Capson, STRI research chemist, who directed the project. "The results of this study could have direct and positive impacts on the future of medical treatment for many diseases around the world."

For this research scientists used plants already known to have anti-cancer compounds; those proven to be active against certain disease-carrying parasites; and plants without such activity. The study showed that beetles and butterfly larvae with bright warning coloration were significantly more common on plants that contained compounds active against certain diseases, such as breast cancer and malaria. There was no significant difference in the number of plain-colored insects between plants with and without activity, according to the study by the Smithsonian's Panama International Cooperative Biodiversity Group Program.

"We put two and two together," said researcher Julie Helson. "We knew that brightly colored insects advertise to their predators that they taste bad and that some get their toxins from their host plants. But because other insects cheat by mimicking the toxic ones, we weren't sure if insect color was really going to work to identify plants containing toxinsit did!" Helson was a student at McGill University when she conducted this research in 2005.

The Smithsonian's PICBG program first demonstrated that theories about chemical defense in rainforest plantssuch as the idea that young leaves tend to be richer in defense chemicalscan significantly improve the efficiency and lower the cost of drug discovery, when compared with a random screening approach.

Although the idea that brightly colored insects could facilitate the search for medicinally active plants has been discussed for decades, the concept had never been rigorously tested. This new work at the Smithsonian provides another example of how ecology can contribute to the discovery of novel medicines. The study suggests that a quick screen for insects with warning coloration on tropical plants may increase the efficiency of the search for compounds active against cancer and tropical parasitic disease by four-fold. "It's very gratifying to see that it works in the field." said Capson. "I am hopeful that other investigators will follow our lead and test our theory that insects can lead us to plants with disease-fighting properties."

This work also demonstrates that protecting tropical forestsnot just the insects and plants, but at every levelhas the potential to provide immeasurable benefits to human health.


'/>"/>

Contact: Beth King
kingb@si.edu
703-487-3770, ext. 8216
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Study shows single insecticide application can kill 3 cockroach generations
2. Insect release proposed to control exotic strawberry guava
3. Oregano oil works as well as synthetic insecticides to tackle common beetle pest
4. Insects use plant like a telephone
5. Insects evolved radically different strategy to smell
6. Insects take a bigger bite out of plants in a higher CO2 world
7. Insecticide combo delivers knockout punch
8. Birds, bats and insects hold secrets for aerospace engineers
9. Ants and avalanches: Insects on coffee plants follow widespread natural tendency
10. Insects giant leap reconstructed by founder of sociobiology
11. Insect gut detects unhealthy meal
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Insect warning colors aid cancer and tropical disease drug discovery
(Date:6/20/2016)... DALLAS , June 20, 2016 ... criminal justice technology solutions for public safety, investigation, ... by the prisons involved, it has secured the ... Corrections (DOC) facilities for Managed Access Systems (MAS) ... (4) additional facilities to be installed by October, ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... attendance control systems is proud to announce the introduction of fingerprint attendance control software, ... employees are actually signing in, and to even control the opening of doors. ... ... ... Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160609/377487 ...
(Date:6/3/2016)... 2016 Das DOTM ... Nepal hat ein 44 Millionen ... Kennzeichen, einschließlich Personalisierung, Registrierung und IT-Infrastruktur, an ... und Implementierung von Identitätsmanagementlösungen. Zahlreiche renommierte internationale ... teilgenommen, aber Decatur wurde als konformste und ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... , June 27, 2016  Global demand for ... percent through 2020 to $7.2 billion.  This market ... beverages, cleaning products, biofuel production, animal feed, and ... diagnostics, and biocatalysts). Food and beverages will remain ... by increasing consumption of products containing enzymes in ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Newly created 4Sight Medical Solutions ... healthcare market. The company's primary focus is on new product introductions, to include ... are necessary to help companies efficiently bring their products to market. , The ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 2016 Epic Sciences unveiled a liquid ... to PARP inhibitors by targeting homologous recombination deficiency ... new test has already been incorporated into numerous ... types. Over 230 clinical trials are ... including PARP, ATM, ATR, DNA-PK and WEE-1. Drugs ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016   Boston Biomedical , an industry ... to target cancer stemness pathways, announced that its ... Drug Designation from the U.S. Food and Drug ... including gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer. Napabucasin is an ... cancer stemness pathways by targeting STAT3, and is ...
Breaking Biology Technology: