Where is the promise for plant-based medicines? Part 3 

""

In the third and final part of this series of articles focused on plant-based medicines, DDW’s Megan Thomas evaluates therapeutic breakthroughs using plant-based products in drug discovery. The first part of the series explored medical cannabis, and the second looked into psylocibin 

Green tea  

Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), also known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate, is a type of catechin that is found in green tea. It has plenty of potential for therapeutic use.  

In August 2023, a study was conducted by Dr Soriful Islam, and Dr James Segars of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and colleagues which found that in laboratory tests of human fibroid cells, EGCG reduced the amount of a compound that promotes cell division and the quantity of proteins responsible for the tumours’ fibrous contents1. The authors are currently recruiting participants for an NICHD-funded clinical trial called Fibroids and Unexplained Infertility Treatment With Epigallocatechin Gallate; A Natural Compound in Green Tea (FRIEND)1. The study aims to see whether green tea extract containing EGCG will reduce fibroid symptoms and increase chances of a successful pregnancy and live birth in patients wishing to conceive1. 

Another significant study centring around this plant-based product was conducted by investigators at the University of California, Los Angeles2. In this study, researchers discovered how EGCG breaks apart tangles of the protein tau, a ‘hallmark’ of Alzheimer’s disease. The team also identified other molecules that can also untangle tau and may be better drug candidates than the green tea molecule. Results from the NIA-funded study, published in Nature Communications, suggest that this approach may one day provide an effective strategy for treating Alzheimer’s2. 

Tomatoes  

Tg6F is a concentrate that comes from a specific type of genetically modified tomato; it contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant peptides called apoA-I mimetic peptides, which imitate the main protein in HDL, the so-called “good cholesterol”3 

Last year, a UCLA-led study in mice suggested that adding this particular type of tomato concentrate to the diet can reduce the intestinal inflammation that is associated with HIV. The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Pathogens, examined proteins called cytokines and chemokines that are known to predict intestinal and blood inflammation, which can augur adverse outcomes for people with chronic HIV infection3. They found that mice that were given Tg6F had lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines in their gut and blood than the mice that received the standard diet. In addition, they discovered that Tg6F prevented an increase in levels of a protein called ADAM17, which orchestrates inflammatory responses in people with chronic HIV infection. The investigators confirmed the anti-inflammatory effects of apoA-I mimetics in gut biopsies from people with HIV3. 

Algae 

Algae is an informal term for a large and diverse group of photosynthetic, eukaryotic organisms – as well as an important component of a number of plant-based medicines.  

One such example is Nasitrol, which, as reported by DDW, is Amcyte Pharma’s nasal spray based on iota carrageenan, a sulfate polysaccharide synthesised by red algae, with demonstrated antiviral activity and clinical efficacy as a nasal spray in the treatment of the common cold.  

Another example is Vetigel, which, as reported by DDW, is Cresilon’s plant-based technology that stops traumatic and surgical bleeds almost instantaneously without the need for manual pressure. This all began with CEO Joe Landolina “playing around with polymers”. Extracting from the cell walls of algae, he discovered a matrix that would instantly bond to living tissue.  

A disease area where algae have a wealth of potential is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which is evidenced in the work being carried out by Algae4IBD, an EU-funded research initiative4. The Algae4IBD project is studying the potential of probiotics and algae-derived prebiotics as a treatment for IBD and will conclude in May 2025, having begun in in June 2021 with over €7 million in funding. 

References 

  1. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/newsroom/news/080723-uterine-fibroids-green-tea   
  2. https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/study-green-tea-and-other-molecules-uncovers-new-therapeutic-strategy-alzheimers  
  3. https://www.uclahealth.org/news/tomato-concentrate-could-help-reduce-chronic-intestinal  
  4. https://algae4ibd.eu/the-project/#about  

Related Articles

Join FREE today and become a member
of Drug Discovery World

Membership includes:

  • Full access to the website including free and gated premium content in news, articles, business, regulatory, cancer research, intelligence and more.
  • Unlimited App access: current and archived digital issues of DDW magazine with search functionality, special in App only content and links to the latest industry news and information.
  • Weekly e-newsletter, a round-up of the most interesting and pertinent industry news and developments.
  • Whitepapers, eBooks and information from trusted third parties.
Join For Free