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Context: The researchers at the Indian Institutes of Technology Madras and Mandi successfully enhanced the production of the anti-cancer drug camptothecin (CPT) by metabolically engineering plant cells.
- Camptothecin (CPT) is an anti-cancer drug derived from Nathapodytes nimmoniana, a native and endangered plant.
- The extraction process is inefficient, requiring nearly 1,000 tonnes of plant material to produce 1 tonne of CPT.
- The plant is endangered, and its population has seen a 20% decline in the past decade.
- In 2021, researchers from IIT Madras published a paper identifying a microbe as a sustainable and high-yielding alternative source for CPT.
- The Plant Cell Technology Lab at IIT Madras developed a genome-scale metabolic model for N. nimmoniana plant cells using computational tools.
- The study aims to enable effective and efficient commercial production of CPT and other important alkaloids while reducing the need to harvest endangered plants.
- The Science and Engineering Board (SERB) and the Department of Science and Technology funded the research.
- The research findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers of Plant Science.
- The researchers focused on metabolically engineering plant cells to increase the production of CPT.
- They developed a model-based rational metabolic engineering platform for plant cells.
Cultivation and Engineering Process
- Plant cell cultures were grown in the lab, and cells were extracted and maintained in the lab.
- The engineered plant cells were optimized to enhance the production of camptothecin.
- The researchers are at technology readiness levels 3-4 and plan to optimize at the bioreactor level.
- The researchers aim to make the process commercially viable within three to five years.
- Integration of metabolic engineering with bioprocess engineering principles is emphasized for enhanced and sustainable drug production.
- The platform developed for model-based rational metabolic engineering could potentially be used to enhance the production of other high-value phytochemicals.
- The research offers a more sustainable method of producing camptothecin, reducing the reliance on endangered plants and contributing to conservation efforts.
- This research has the potential to revolutionize the production of camptothecin, an essential anti-cancer drug, by providing a more sustainable and efficient alternative to the current extraction methods from endangered plants.
Q. Why has "camptothecin" been a topic of recent news coverage?
A) Due to its discovery in a new species of fungi.
B) As a result of its increased availability in common herbs.
C) Owing to its significance in the treatment of cancer.
D) For its newfound application in renewable energy sources.
Camptothecin has been in the news due to its importance in cancer treatment, particularly as a potential source of anti-cancer drugs.