Saturday 25 October, 2014

Plants boost healing power of anti-fungals

Published On: Sun, Oct 7th, 2012 | Plant Sciences | By IANS

Certain plant compounds could help prescription drugs fight severe fungal infections in a more effective way, thanks to unexpected findings.

Bruce C. Campbell, formerly of Agricultural Research Service (ARS) under the US Department of Agriculture, and molecular biologist colleague Jong H. Kim, and others found that pairing antifungal medicines with compounds such as thymol, derived from herb thyme, can boost the healing effects of some of these drugs.

Campbell and Kim’s work, with species of Aspergillus mould, for example, has attracted the attention of medical and public health researchers.

Found worldwide in air and soil, Aspergillus can infect corn, cotton, pistachios, almonds and other crops, and can produce aflatoxin, a natural carcinogen, the journal Agricultural Research reported.

Aflatoxin-contaminated crops must be identified and removed from the processing stream, at times resulting in large economic losses, according to an ARS statement.

Since 2004, Campbell, Kim and colleagues have carefully built a portfolio of potent, plant-based compounds that kill a target Aspergillus species, A. flavus, or thwart its ability to produce aflatoxin.

Using plant-based compounds to treat fungal infections is not a new idea, nor is that of pairing the compounds with antifungal medicines.

But the research team has explored some apparently unique pairs, and have provided some of the newest, most detailed information about the mechanisms likely responsible for the impact of powerful combinations of drugs and natural plant compounds.

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