Biomedical Research at SOWN


Scientists from the Eskitis Institute for Drug Discovery (Griffith University) and the Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre – Queensland (Queensland University of Technology) have recently reported the discovery of several new bioactive compounds (i.e. natural products) from an Australian plant collected at Walton Bridge Reserve, a SOWN rehabilitation site.

Chemical investigations of the leaves of the Australian rainforest tree Denhamia celastroides have yielded eight new natural products now called denhaminols A-H. This is the first report of secondary metabolites from Denhamia celastroides. Chemical structures of these compounds were assigned following analysis of 1D/2D nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopic and mass spectrometric data, the chemical structure and absolute configuration of denhaminol A also being determined by single-crystal X-ray crystallography. All compounds were evaluated for cytotoxic activity against a human prostate cancer cell line (LNCaP) using live-cell imaging and metabolic assays. Denhaminols A and G were also tested for their effects on the lipid content of LNCaP cells and showed moderate inhibitory activity. The discovery that these two compounds affect lipid homeostasis in cancer cells warrants further investigation.

This basically means our local plants are right there at the leading edge of cancer research. And this is just the beginning. Follow up studies are looking at more plants from the family Celastraceae.

Denhamia celastroides

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