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IIT Madras researchers engineer plant cells to increase production of Camptothecin, used to cure cancer

IIT Madras researchers engineer plant cells to increase production of Camptothecin, used to cure cancer

This study can pave the way for effective and efficient commercial production of Camptothecin, reducing the dependence on endangered plants, says IIT Madras

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras and IIT Mandi metabolically altered Nothapodytes nimmoniana plant cells to boost the production of Camptothecin, which is used to cure cancer.

Using computational techniques, researchers from IIT Madras’ Plant Cell Technology Lab created a genome-scale metabolic model for N. nimmoniana plant cells, reveals a press release from IIT Madras.

Camptothecin, the third most in-demand alkaloid, is commercially harvested in India from the endangered plant Nothapodytes nimmoniana. As a result, this might be a significant boost to the production of cancer-treating medications.

The press release also reveals that IIT Madras researchers identified a microorganism as a sustainable and high-yielding alternative source for the plant-derived anti-cancer medication Camptothecin in a Research Paper released in 2021. Just one tonne of Camptothecin requires over 1,000 tonnes of plant material.

The International Union for Nature (IUCN) has red-listed its key plant sources due to significant overharvesting to fulfil market demand. The population of N. nimmoniana has declined by more than 20% in the previous decade alone.

Sarayu Murali, PhD student at IIT Madras, Dr Maziya Ibrahim of the Computational Systems Biology Lab at IIT Madras, Prof Karthik Raman and Prof Smita Srivastava of the Department of Biotechnology at IIT Madras, and Dr Shyam K Masakapalli and Shagun Saini of the Metabolic Systems Biology Lab at IIT Mandi led the current study.

The Science and Engineering Board (SERB) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) of the Government of India financed the research. This research was published recently in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers of Plant Science, IIT Madras says.

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