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

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 September 17, 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 September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) — President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Male-Pattern Baldness To Prostate Cancer

Study Links Male-Pattern Baldness To Prostate Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) — New findings suggest men with a certain type of baldness at age 45 are 39 percent more likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer. 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:
from the past week

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