Tamil Nadu

Alternative source for anti-cancer drug identified

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras have identified a sustainable, high-yielding alternative source for the anti-cancer drug camptothecin.

Camptothecin is an alkaloid isolated from ‘Camptotheca Acuminata’, a Chinese tree and ‘Nothapodytes Nimmoniana’, an Indian tree. It requires nearly 1,000 tonnes of plant material to extract one tonne of camptothecin. In the past decade, the population of N. Nimmoniana fell by 20%, according to the researchers.

The researchers have developed a microbial fermentation process that can be an economically-efficient method of production to fulfil the market demand.

Two drugs, topotecan and irinotecan, are produced using camptothecin.

Over a dozen derivatives of camptothecin are under various stages of clinical trials.

Smita Srivastava, associate professor in the Department of Biotechnology, led the research.

Ms. Srivastava, the principal investigator of the study said, “The novelty of the work lies in the fact that unlike other potential microbial strains reported, this strain has been found to show sustainable production even beyond 100 generations. The plan now is to use the isolated novel strain to develop a microbial fermentation-based sustainable bioprocess for large-scale in vitro production of camptothecin, preferably in collaboration with interested industrial partners,” she said.

There are five members on her team, including a researcher from the University of Agricultural Sciences, GKVK, Bengaluru.

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 5:55:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/alternative-source-for-anti-cancer-drug-identified/article33936802.ece

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