Researchers find 11 anti-cancer plants in Dominican Republic

The plants are part of the Asteraceae

A study sponsored by the Science Faculty of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD) showed that in the Dominican Republic there are 11 types of medicinal plants with anti-cancer properties that could generate a patent for selling medicines.

The plants are part of the Asteraceae, said to be the largest family of flowering plants with more than 23,000 different species. “These plants are important because they have substances that can cure different types of diseases. Among all the possible substances that there are, the one with is said to have the greatest medicinal effect is one that is called Lactona Sesquiterpenica”, explained the Chemistry professor and investigator of the Chemical Institute of the UASD, Quirico Castillo.

The teacher is the person in charge of the research project-which is now two years along-titled: “Search for molecules with antibiotic and anti-cancer properties in endemic Dominican plants of the Asteraceae family”. The research is financed by the Fondodyt of the Ministry of Higher Education at a cost of RD$4,843,000.

The medical action of a substance contained in this flower inhibits the growth of cancer cells. “At the present time we are studying 11 plants…and we are pleased to have found that all of them have anti-cancer properties, more or less”, said the researcher, who has over seven years spent on this sort of scientific study.

“The preliminary trials were done on non-human cancer tissue, and carried out on kidney cancer in the African green monkey, and that was where we found evidence that all of them had anti-cancer potential. After this we worked on five lines of human cells, two lines of breast cancer, one line of colon cancer, a line of cervix cancer and another of lung cancer”, Castillo noted.

The tests were done at the Las Lagunas University in Tenerife (in the Canary Islands) which is supporting the research project. The plants studied grow in different areas of the national geography, Wome five or six were collected in the Bahoruco Sierra, and others in the provinces of Hermanas Mirabal, and Puerto Plata as well as in the Jose Armando Bermudez National Park.

Of the 11 studied, one is known to the people as the Altamisa.

Castillo did not identify the plants with the best anti-cancer properties in order to keep the information in case they obtain a patent. If they obtain this they can develop a larger scale production of the plants for manufacturing medicines in pills or other presentations.

Dominican Republic Live, from DT, 13.06.12, 11.55am

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