Drugtissuecult – University of Copenhagen

Plant Tissue Cultures as New Production Platforms for Terpenoid Based Anti-Cancer Drugs

Plants produce an enormous diversity of low-molecular-weight bioactive compounds that play essential roles in adaptation and defence. Mankind is continuously screening such compounds for molecules with novel or superior pharmaceutical properties, and for several thousand years, a wide variety of plants have been used in traditional medicine because of their e.g. antimicrobial, spasmolytic, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatorial activities. 

In DrugTissueCult we will focus on two terpenoids with anticancer properties that are produced in very low amounts and thus of both pharmaceutical and economical value: the sesquiterpenoid Thapsigargin produced in Thapsia garganica and the triterpenoid Withaferin A produced in Withania somnifera.

DrugTissueCult will establish the sustainable production of these complex molecules and decipher the complete metabolic pathway in each relevant plant species. Accordingly, production of Thapsigargin and Withaferin A in plant based bioreactors is an attractive opportunity to achieve a sustainable and industrial exploitable supply, and we will utilize the system AlkaBurstTM developed by Alkion Biopharma to establish the production.

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