AUG 13, 2015 9:45 PM PDT

Cancer-Fighting Compounds

WRITTEN BY: Ilene Schneider
Deep in the soil of Ghana are compounds that could help scientists to understand a group of naturally-occurring chemicals said to have cancer-fighting properties. An international research team led by the University of Aberdeen, Wuhan University, China and University of Ghana, Legon, has discovered the new compounds and identified the compound legonmycins, named for the region in Ghana in which it was found (https://www.dddmag.com/news/2015/08/research-team-takes-step-forward-understanding-cancer-fighting-compounds?et_cid=4738815&et_rid=45505806&location=top).

International research team discovers natural alkaloid compounds that have potential as drugs to fight cancer.

Legonmycins A and B are part of a group of naturally occurring alkaloids based on the pyrrolizidine backbone. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) are produced mainly by plants as a defense mechanism against insect pests and herbivores. They have been used by humans since ancient times for therapeutic and recreational purposes. While more than 660 plant pyrrolizidines are known, only as many as 10 bacteria PAs have been characterized. Recent studies have demonstrated that PAs have pharmaceutical importance as anti- tumor and anti-inflammatory agents, but their biosynthetic origins had been poorly understood (https://www.modernghana.com/news/634565/1/university-of-ghana-discovers-cancer-fighting-agen.html).

The research team has attempted to establish how and why these compounds occur. According to Dr Hai Deng from the University of Aberdeen, the benefit of their effort, which is published in Angewandte Chemie Int. Ed. is two-fold. It elaborates on current understanding of this important group of alkaloids, which is critical if the full pharmaceutical potential of this material were to be realized, and the newly discovered compound could eventually be used in the development of new drug-like treatments.

Dr Kwaku Kyeremeh, a lecturer from the chemistry department, University of Ghana, explained, “Natural products have been known to have therapeutic benefits for centuries and play an important role in the development of new anti-tumor and anti –inflammatory agents. However, in their natural state, they are often toxic to human health or are not potent enough to deliver any advantage.

Dr Yi Yu, an associate professor from Wuhan University, added, “It can also be difficult to generate the compounds in sufficient quantities and this is where chemistry and synthetic biology is needed to generate what is known as an ‘analogue’ – a modified version suited to human health.”

According to Dr Deng, “The generation of these analogues relies first on determining the genome sequence of the compounds and then working out how they can be synthesized. We have made a breakthrough in understanding this with the compound we discovered called legonmycins and this has implications for our understanding of other bacterium-derived compounds within this family which are known to have cancer-fighting properties.”

Dr Deng said the next stage would be to look at how the code the researchers have unraveled in legonmycins can be applied more widely for the generation of potent analogues with the potential to treat cancer and other diseases. The ultimate goal is to create many other analogues using synthetic biology.
About the Author
  • Ilene Schneider is the owner of Schneider the Writer, a firm that provides communications for health care, high technology and service enterprises. Her specialties include public relations, media relations, advertising, journalistic writing, editing, grant writing and corporate creativity consulting services. Prior to starting her own business in 1985, Ilene was editor of the Cleveland edition of TV Guide, associate editor of School Product News (Penton Publishing) and senior public relations representative at Beckman Instruments, Inc. She was profiled in a book, How to Open and Operate a Home-Based Writing Business and listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Advertising and Who's Who in Media and Communications. She was the recipient of the Women in Communications, Inc. Clarion Award in advertising. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Ilene and her family have lived in Irvine, California, since 1978.
You May Also Like
DEC 18, 2019
Cancer
DEC 18, 2019
Looking to this tropical plant for future pancreatic cancer treatments
Pancreatic cancer is a dangerous disease for two reasons: its stealth and its resistance to many anti-cancer drugs. The American Cancer Society estimates t...
JAN 18, 2020
Cancer
JAN 18, 2020
What's the deal with turmeric?
Have you fallen for the turmeric craze? That little orange root that yellows your fingers when you peel it has become very popular recently for its medicin...
JAN 23, 2020
Cancer
JAN 23, 2020
The role of circular RNA in melanoma
New research published in the journal Cancer Cell investigates the role of circular RNAs in the spread of melanoma. Melanoma is a particularly aggressive c...
FEB 12, 2020
Cancer
FEB 12, 2020
Can we eradicate cervical cancer within a century?
Two studies recently published in The Lancet present evidence that the eradication of cervical cancer could be possible within the next century. The World ...
FEB 19, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
FEB 19, 2020
Forget complicated scans - ovarian cancer can be detected in the blood
Results from clinical trials performed in Melbourne, Australia have revealed the diagnostic potential of a new test for ovarian cancer. Instead of using co...
FEB 19, 2020
Immunology
FEB 19, 2020
Testing the Immune Response to Ovarian Cancer Treatment
There is a new diagnostic test for the deadliest form of gynecological cancer – ovarian cancer. Better tests mean better diagnostics, and better diag...
Loading Comments...