Mechanistic insights into Old English plants

July 10, 2012
Jasminum humile inhibits calcineurin. Credit: Geoffrey Kite

Often lacking in natural product drug discovery are ‘mechanistic insights’; that is, insights into the events at the molecular level that are behind any effects that plant compounds have on cells or organisms. With this in mind, Tom Prescott screened 250 Old English plants from the Queen’s Garden at Kew, to search for compounds that inhibit the human enzyme calcineurin. The results have been published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.

Calcineurin plays an important role in regulating human T-cell activation in the immune response, and inhibition of this process can be beneficial in certain auto-immune diseases.

Nepeta cataria and Teucrium chamaedrys showed initial promise but the compounds responsible (phenylpropanoid glycosides) were only strongly active against the basal, un-activated form of the enzyme.

Jasminum humile was found to be more promising as the ethanol extract inhibited both isolated human calcineurin enzyme and calcineurin-dependent gene expression in yeast cells. This demonstrated that plants do indeed produce compounds that directly inhibit .

Explore further: Common transplant drug inhibits breast cancer growth, study shows

More information: Prescott, T. A. K., et al. (2011). Direct inhibition of calcineurin by caffeoyl phenylethanoid glycosides from Teucrium chamaedrys and Nepeta cataria. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 137: 1306–1310.

Prescott, T. A. K., et al. (2012). Inhibition of human calcineurin and yeast calcineurin-dependent gene expression by Jasminum humile leaf and root extracts. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 140: 293-297.

Related Stories

Common transplant drug inhibits breast cancer growth, study shows

May 26, 2011
Tacrolimus, a drug that is commonly used to prevent organ transplantation rejection, inhibits breast cancer growth in pre-clinical studies. The finding from UNC scientists was reported in the May 26th PLoS ONE.

Time to stop giving toxic drugs to kidney transplant patients?

September 22, 2011
Patients who receive kidney transplants must take lifelong medications that, while preventing organ rejection, can also compromise other aspects of health. Immunosuppresive drugs called calcineurin inhibitors protect transplanted ...

Study uncovers why anti-rejection drugs for transplant patients cause hypertension

October 7, 2011
Modern medicine's ability to save lives through organ transplantation has been revolutionized by the development of drugs that prevent the human body from rejecting the transplanted organ.

Recommended for you

Data revealed under FOI shows benefits of multiple sclerosis drug currently blocked by regulators

August 17, 2017
A drug that is blocked by the EU regulatory system has now been found to improve the quality of life of people with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

Opioids overused in migraine treatment, regardless of race, study finds

August 17, 2017
African-Americans are more likely to experience debilitating migraine headaches than whites, but a new study probing the issue found no evidence of racial disparities in treatment practices.

Finding better ways to reduce serious drug side effects

August 14, 2017
Many of the medicines we depend on to treat disease—and even to save our lives—pose potentially serious risks along with their benefits. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that about ...

Ultrasound-triggered liposomes for on-demand, local anesthesia

August 10, 2017
Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital have found a new way to non-invasively relieve pain at local sites in the body; such systems could one day improve pain management by replacing addictive opioids and short-lasting ...

Independent pharmacies and online coupons help patients save money on drugs

August 8, 2017
Uninsured patients or those with limited prescription drug coverage can save significant money by buying their drugs at independent pharmacies instead of big box, grocery or chain drug stores and by using discount coupons, ...

New study generates more accurate estimates of state opioid and heroin fatalities

August 7, 2017
Although opioid and heroin deaths have been rising dramatically in the U.S., the magnitude of the epidemic varies from state to state, as does the relative proportion of opioid vs heroin poisonings. Further complicating the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.