The power of a flower
By Ryan Jones
Pancratium, shown above, is the type of spider lily used in creating the PST component.
A team of chemistry students from the University of Windsor have found a new way to fight cancer through the extraction of the spider lily flower.
The specific type of spider lily used is called pancratium which inspired the component’s title pancratistatin (PST).
The idea has been studied since 2005 by biochemistry professor Dr. Siyaram Pandey and his students. Recent help came from Tomas Hudlicky, a professor at Brock University and James Mcnulty a professor at McMaster University.
With this new discovery came complications, one being the extraction process.
“There was a problem with that compound. One problem was the small amount from the plant. One kilogram of the flower buds gives one milligram of the compound,” said Dr. Pandey. “Dr. McNulty and Dr. Hudlicky both started synthesizing the compound. Hudlicky synthesized seven different compounds similar to the natural compound.”
Dr. Pandey said the synthesized version of PST was more effective compared t0 the natural version.
A fourth year biochemistry student from the university, Jesse Ropat, is a team member of Pandey’s group. He said that he and his colleagues work long days in the laboratory characterizing the drug.
“We first screen PST and the PST analogues against cancerous cell lines to determine whether or not the compound possesses anti-cancer efficacy. When select compounds show promise, we pursue them further to evaluate the mechanism, and further analyze the cytotoxicity against normal cells and in mice models,” said Ropat.
No clinical trials have been conducted but Ropat says they have demonstrated successful cellular experiments on mice models and hope for the same outcome in humans.
“It’s a rewarding feeling to have contributed to the field,” said Ropat.