IIT Madras Researchers Identify Sustainable, Alternative Source For An Anti-Cancer Drug
Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIIT) Madras have identified a sustainable and high-yielding alternative source for the anti-cancer drug, Camptothecin. The research was led by Dr. Smita Srivastava, Associate Professor, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras. The researchers have published their findings in the Journal of Scientific Reports.
Camptothecin is an alkaloid isolated from Camptotheca acuminata and Nothapodytes nimmoniana trees. According to IIT Madras, these plans are now critically endangered, due to extensive overharvesting to meet the market demand. Nearly 1,000 tons of plant material is required to extract one ton of Camptothecin. The N. nimmoniana population has seen more than a 20% decline in the last decade.
Topotecan and Irinotecan are two widely-used anticancer drugs produced by using Camptothecin as the lead molecule.
IIT Madras researchers have developed a microbial fermentation process that can be an economically efficient and sustainable method of Camptothecin production.
Highlighting the applications for this research, Dr Srivastava, 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 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).”
Elaborating on the technical aspects of the research, Mr Khwajah Mohinudeen, a research scholar at IIT Madras, said Researchers have been able to successfully isolate the “highest-yielding strain of Camptothecin reported to date”.
“In addition to isolating a novel microbial source for bioprocess development for the large scale production of Camptothecin, we have also come up with a rapid screening technique for isolation of high Camptothecin yielding microbial strains from plants,” he added.