IIT team identifies sustainable source for anti-cancer drug

Chennai, Feb 25 : Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras researchers have identified a sustainable and high-yielding alternative source for the anti-cancer drug Camptothecin.

At present, this drug is sourced from Chinese and Indian tree species, which are now critically endangered due to extensive over-harvesting to meet the market demand.

This novel microbial fermentation process can be an economically efficient and sustainable method of production to fulfil the market demand on a large scale, according to a paper published in the reputed peer-reviewed International Journal of Scientific Reports.

"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," said researcher Smita Srivastava, Associate Professor, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras.

"The plan now is to use the isolated novel strain for the development of a microbial fermentation based sustainable bioprocess for large scale in vitro production of Camptothecin, preferably in collaboration with interested industrial partner(s)," Srivastava added.

Topotecan and Irinotecan are two widely used anticancer drugs, which are produced by using Camptothecin as the lead molecule.

More than a dozen derivatives and conjugates of Camptothecin are under various stages of clinical trials for anti-cancer applications.

Camptothecin is an alkaloid isolated from the Chinese tree Camptotheca acuminata and the Indian tree Nothapodytes nimmoniana.

Nearly 1,000 tons of plant material is required to extract just one ton of Camptothecin.

Due to extensive over-harvesting to meet the market demand both these plants are now critically endangered.

The N. nimmoniana population has seen more than a 20% decline in the last decade alone.

Cancer has been a leading cause of death worldwide including in India.

It is projected that by 2026, the new cancer cases in India annually would reach 0.93 million in male and 0.94 million in female patients, according to a study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention.



Source: IANS