Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Potent Anticancer Agent Found In Hazelnuts

Date:
April 11, 2000
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
The active chemical of the anticancer drug Taxol® has unexpectedly been found in hazelnuts, says a team of researchers at the University of Portland in Portland, Oregon. This is the first report of the potent chemical, generically known as paclitaxel, being found in a plant other than the yew tree. This finding could reduce the cost of the commercial drug and make it more readily available, the investigators say.

Plant Could Become Alternative Source of Taxol® Precursor

Related Articles


SAN FRANCISCO, March 29 — The active chemical of the anticancer drug Taxol® has unexpectedly been found in hazelnuts, says a team of researchers at the University of Portland in Portland, Oregon. This is the first report of the potent chemical, generically known as paclitaxel, being found in a plant other than the yew tree. This finding could reduce the cost of the commercial drug and make it more readily available, the investigators say. The study is being presented here today at the 219th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.

“This is potentially good news for cancer patients,” says Angela M. Hoffman, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry in the university’s Department of Chemistry and Physics, and a member of the research team. Taxol® is currently one of the biggest-selling cancer drugs worldwide. An alternative source could stimulate competition among drug manufacturers, which could mean cheaper drug prices, explains Hoffman.

The study began as a search for a compound that made certain hazelnut trees resistant to a plant disease known as Eastern Filbert Blight. A chemical analysis of extracts from these hazelnut trees was conducted. Surprisingly, one of the chemicals identified from the extracts was paclitaxel, says Hoffman. The chemical was isolated from the nuts, branches and shells of the trees, she says.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Taxol® for the treatment of ovarian cancer, breast cancer and AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma. Researchers originally believed that the drug’s precursor was found only in the bark of the Pacific yew tree, a slow-growing plant found in limited quantities in the Pacific Northwest. As it takes several Pacific yew trees to make a small amount of Taxol® commercially, the trees were once the target of controversy since large scale harvesting could have risked their extinction.

Commercial supplies of Taxol® are now manufactured by a semi-synthetic method that relies on extracts from the leaves of another yew species. Although paclitaxel has been synthesized artificially in the laboratory without using any yew parts, this method is currently too complex and expensive to implement commercially, says Hoffman.

While the supply of Taxol® is generally meeting demand for currently approved cancer treatments and clinical trials, researchers are also finding an increasing number of other medical applications that are boosting demand for it. Clinical studies have shown that the drug is promising for the treatment of psoriasis, polycystic kidney disease, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s, among others.

As demand for the anticancer drug continues to increase, researchers may be wise to consider the hazelnut tree as an alternative source of paclitaxel, Hoffman says. Although the amount of the chemical found in a hazelnut tree is about one-tenth that of the yew (6 to 7 micrograms/gram dry weight of hazel vs. 60 to 70 micrograms/gram dry weight of yew), the effort required to extract paclitaxel from these sources is comparable, she says.

For those who are tempted to run to the store and stockpile hazelnuts, Hoffman urges caution. Based on her chemical analysis of raw hazelnuts, she concludes there is probably not enough paclitaxel in a handful of nuts to make a difference medically. The researcher has not tested roasted nuts, and is skeptical of any significant amounts of the chemical being found in hazelnut-flavored products like coffee, tea and candy.

Hoffman’s work, in addition to being funded by the university, is partially funded by the Oregon Hazelnut Commission.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Potent Anticancer Agent Found In Hazelnuts." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 April 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/04/000410084755.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2000, April 11). Potent Anticancer Agent Found In Hazelnuts. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/04/000410084755.htm
American Chemical Society. "Potent Anticancer Agent Found In Hazelnuts." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/04/000410084755.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) — As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) — Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) — Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) — According to research out of the University of Pennsylvania, waking up for work is the biggest factor that causes Americans to lose sleep. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins