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Hemanthamine found in Daffodils has anti-cancer properties

Researchers from Université Libre de Bruxelles discover that alkaloid found in Daffodils has anti-cancer properties. This alkaloid called haemanthamine works by triggering activation of anti-tumor surveillance pathway. This study was led by Dennis Lafontaine and is published in journal Structure.

Structure of Ribosome. Credit ULB

Researchers found that this compound binds to the ribosome and blocks the production of proteins. Haemanthamine also inhibits the production of these ribosomes in the nucleolus. This nucleolar stress triggers the activation of an anti-tumoral surveillance pathway leading to the stabilization of the protein p53 and the elimination of cancer cells.

In the near future, the team of Denis Lafontaine, in collaboration with Veronique Mathieu (Faculty of Pharmacy- ULB), will test the effect on ribosome biogenesis and function of four Amaryllidaceae alkaloids, representative of the chemical diversity of these molecules. Their goal will be to identify the most promising chemical backbone to be further developed as a lead compound in cancer therapeutics.

Reference: Pellegrino, Simone, Mélanie Meyer, Christiane Zorbas, Soumaya A. Bouchta, Kritika Saraf, Stephen C. Pelly, Gulnara Yusupova, Antonio Evidente, Véronique Mathieu, Alexander Kornienko, Denis L.j. Lafontaine, and Marat Yusupov. “The Amaryllidaceae Alkaloid Haemanthamine Binds the Eukaryotic Ribosome to Repress Cancer Cell Growth.” Structure, 2018. doi:10.1016/j.str.2018.01.009.

Adapted from press release by Université Libre de Bruxelles.

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