What is Camptothecin?

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What is Camptothecin? Blog Image


Researchers at the Indian Institutes of Technology Madras and Mandi have metabolically engineered Nothapodytes nimmoniana plant cells to increase production of anti-cancer drug camptothecin (CPT).

About Camptothecin

  • Camptothecin (CPT) is an important anti-cancer drug lead molecule for high-value drugs like Topotecan and Irinotecan.
  • It is a potent topoisomerase I inhibitor extracted mainly from - Camptotheca acuminata (native to Eastern Asia) and Nothapodytes nimmoniana (native to India).
  • It is majorly produced in the Southeast Asian region, with the plant being largely found only in China and India.
  • However, the conjunction of climate change and extensive deforestation undertaken for CPT extraction has pushed these plants into the endangered species category.

Key facts about Nothapodytes nimmoniana

  • It is an endangered forest plant and disseminated in Sri Lanka, China, South East Asia, Taiwan, North Sumatra, Luzon Philippines and India.
  • In India, this plant is prevalent to Western Ghats of Maharashtra, Goa, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala and also found in Assam and Jammu and Kashmir.
  • It is native to India and especially found in the Western Ghats region.
  • The allopathic medicine is produced using Nathapodytes nimmoniana.
  • The plant contains camptothecin (CPT) which is a renowned anticancer drug.
  • The CPT is found in many plant species but maximum amount of CPT has been reported from N. nimmoniana.
  • It requires nearly 1,000 tonnes of plant material to extract 1 tonne of CPT. 
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature has red-listed the plant as in the past decade alone there has been a 20% decline in the plant’s population.
  • Due to the very good source of CPT, this plant has been explored for its Phytochemical, Biotechnological and Pharmacological aspects.

Q1) What is Cancer?

It refers to any one of a large number of diseases characterized by the development of abnormal cells that divide uncontrollably and have the ability to infiltrate and destroy normal body tissue. Cancer often has the ability to spread throughout your body.

Source: IIT researchers engineer plant cells to produce drug for cancer