Navigation Links
Gateway enzyme for chemicals from catnip to cancer drug

Scientists have discovered an enzyme used in nature to make powerful chemicals from catnip to a cancer drug, vinblastine. The discovery opens up the prospect of producing these chemicals cheaply and efficiently.

They are produced naturally by some plants such as the medicinal Madagascar periwinkle, but faster-growing plants could be used to produce them. With synthetic biology, improvements could also be made to them.

The study, to be published in Nature on Thursday, was led by scientists from the John Innes Centre, an institute on Norwich Research Park strategically funded by BBSRC.

"Thousands of chemicals are derived from the enzyme we have called iridoid synthase," says senior author Dr Sarah O'Connor from the JIC and the University of East Anglia.

"We can start to use it to come up with new-to-nature structures with biological activity of benefit to both medicine and agriculture."

Many aphids, often important agricultural pests, produce sex pheromone chemicals that are identical to or that closely resemble the iridoid synthase product. Strategic use of these iridoid chemicals could be used to disrupt the aphids' breeding cycle or to repel them from crops.

The anticancer ingredient vinblastine sulphate is currently derived from the Madagascar periwinkle plant. The iridoid synthase is an essential step in the production of this compound. But vinblastine is produced in just very low levels and the drug has many side effects. The hope is to find a way to produce it more cheaply, easily and with a chemical structure that lessens side effects.

"We need to identify more enzymes to see the entire pathway used in nature to make this potent compound," said Dr O'Connor.

"But the enzyme we have discovered is also the basic scaffold for many other iridoid chemicals and we can start to experiment with building new chemical structures with biological activity."

The backbone of all iridoids consists of two fused rings and scientists have been trying to track down what makes this ring system. Experiments showed that iridoid synthase is the enzyme responsible.

Scientists already knew the enzyme preceeding iridoid synthase and how the gene encoding it is expressed. The lead author, Dr Fernando Geu-Flores from JIC, therefore looked for enzymes that are encoded by genes expressed in a similar way and narrowed down their search to 20 enzymes.

Research published in the 1980s indicated that the missing enzyme is dependent on a particular compound called NADPH, which narrowed the search down to two enzymes.

O'Connor and her co-workers will also investigate whether the enzyme is important in a simple chemical reaction used by chemists for nearly 100 years. Scientists are trying to identify which enzymes catalyse a reaction called the Diels-Alder reaction, named after the Nobel prize-winning scientists who discovered it. A better understanding of how the iridoid synthase works could open up new ways to make pharmaceutical compounds using synthetic biology.


Contact: Zoe Dunford
Norwich BioScience Institutes

Related medicine news :

1. UC San Diego, Yale awarded collaborative NSF grant for Neuroscience Gateway
2. Enzyme corrects more than 1 million faults in DNA replication
3. Enzyme offers new therapeutic target for cancer drugs
4. Clemson researchers collect and reuse enzymes while maintaining bioactivity
5. Enzymes implicated in disease processes attack one another instead of harming body proteins
6. Compounds activate key cancer enzyme to interfere with tumor formation
7. Mayo Clinic researchers identify new enzyme to fight Alzheimers disease
8. Structure of enzyme unravelled providing basis for more accurate design of chemotherapeutic drugs
9. Chemicals in PVC Flooring Can Be Absorbed Into Childrens Bodies: Study
10. The Science of Tasty Tomatoes Lies in the Chemicals
11. Danger at Home Lurks in Pills, Plants, Chemicals and More
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Gateway enzyme for chemicals from catnip to cancer drug
(Date:6/25/2016)... Long Beach, CA (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... from UCLA with Magna Cum Laude and his M.D from the David Geffen School ... San Diego and returned to Los Angeles to complete his fellowship in hematology/oncology at ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... ... On Friday, June 10, Van Mitchell, Secretary of the Maryland Department of ... recognition of their exemplary accomplishments in worksite health promotion. , The Wellness at Work ... Symposium at the BWI Marriott in Linthicum Heights. iHire was one of 42 businesses ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 2016 , ... A recent article published June 14 on E ... goes on to state that individuals are now more comfortable seeking to undergo not ... as calf and cheek reduction. The Los Angeles area medical group, Beverly Hills Physicians ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Marne, Michigan (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... awareness about the dangers associated with chronic pain and the benefits of holistic treatments, ... for individuals who are suffering with Sickle Cell Disease. , Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 24, 2016 , ... The Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) learned ... receive two significant new grants to support its work to advance research and ... by recognizing patients, medical professionals and scientists for their work in fighting pulmonary ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... 2016  Arkis BioSciences, a leading innovator in ... durable cerebrospinal fluid treatments, today announced it has ... is led by Innova Memphis, followed by Angel ... investors.  Arkis, new financing will accelerate the commercialization ... release of its in-licensed Endexo® technology. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Research ... "Pharmaceutical Excipients Market by Type (Organic Chemical (Sugar, Petrochemical, ... (Oral, Topical, Coating, Parenteral) - Global Forecast to 2021" ... The global pharmaceutical excipients market is ... a CAGR of 6.1% in the forecast period 2016 ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Capricor Therapeutics, Inc. ... company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization ... in its ongoing randomized HOPE-Duchenne clinical trial (Halt ... its 24-patient target. Capricor expects the trial to ... 2016, and to report top line data from ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: