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About Camptothecin


Researchers from the Indian Institutes of Technology Madras and Mandi have successfully applied metabolic engineering techniques to boost the production of the anti-cancer drug camptothecin (CPT) in cells of the Nothapodytes nimmoniana plant.


GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Camptothecin
  2. Key Facts about Nothapodytes nimmoniana

About Camptothecin:

  • Role in Anti-Cancer Drugs: Camptothecin (CPT) serves as a crucial anti-cancer drug lead molecule, forming the basis for high-value medications like Topotecan and Irinotecan.
  • Source: Extracted primarily from Camptotheca acuminata (native to Eastern Asia) and Nothapodytes nimmoniana (native to India), it is a potent topoisomerase I inhibitor.
  • Production Hub: Predominantly produced in the Southeast Asian region, the plant sources, particularly in China and India, contribute significantly to its production.
  • Endangered Status: Climate change and extensive deforestation, primarily for CPT extraction, have led to the endangered classification of the source plants, emphasizing conservation concerns.

Key Facts about Nothapodytes nimmoniana:

  • Geographical Distribution: Nothapodytes nimmoniana is an endangered forest plant found in Sri Lanka, China, South East Asia, Taiwan, North Sumatra, Luzon Philippines, and India.
  • Indian Presence: Prevalent in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam, and Jammu and Kashmir, it is native to India.
  • Medicinal Allopathic Use: The plant is a source of allopathic medicine production, specifically utilizing camptothecin (CPT), a renowned anticancer drug.
  • Abundance in N. nimmoniana: While CPT is found in various plant species, N. nimmoniana stands out for containing the highest reported amount of CPT.
  • Extraction Challenge: Extracting 1 tonne of CPT requires nearly 1,000 tonnes of plant material, emphasizing the resource-intensive nature of the extraction process.
  • Conservation Status: The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the plant as endangered, highlighting a 20% decline in its population over the past decade.
  • Exploration Areas: Beyond its medicinal value, the plant has been explored for its Phytochemical, Biotechnological, and Pharmacological aspects.

-Source: The Hindu

February 2024