The Lindbergh Foundation Believes that Innovative Science and Technology Hold the Key to Addressing Humanity’s Environmental and Productivity Challenges

Nadine Darwiche

Najat Saliba



Dr. Nadine Darwiche

Dr. Najat Saliba

Comparing the Anticancer Properties of Extracts from Wild vs. Cultivated Medicinal Plants

Category: Biomedical, Plant Conservation

This project is sponsored by:  The Laura Jane Musser Fund

Recently, lots of interest has been generated towards the use of natural compounds to protect against several types of cancer, and many of the best-selling anticancer drugs are plant-derived.  We have shown that the Mediterranean endemic plant Achillea falcata, commonly used in folk medicine, has promising anticancer properties.  These plant extracts are rich in sesquiterpene lactones which are a large group of plant secondary metabolites that are renowned for their anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties.  Nevertheless despite these exciting findings, plant resources are limited which necessitates research in order to balance between the advancement of drug discovery and the conservation of the natural environment.

We aim to test whether the anticancer properties of medicinal plants, such as Achillea falcata, differ if wild harvested or cultivated.  We will prepare crude plant extracts from wild harvested or cultivated plant resources, will test for their anticancer properties against different types of human cancer cells, and will determine their mode of cell death in cancer cells.  Finally we will correlate the anticancer properties of the different plant extracts to the composition and content of  the sesquiterpene lactones secondary metabolites.

This research will provide evidence whether wild or cultivated medicinal plants differ or not in their anticancer activities. The ultimate goal of these studies is to ensure the balance of biodiversity and sustainable use of medicinal plants by not relying on wild sources of these plant extracts.  This in turn will enhance economic opportunities and investment in agro-industrial and drug market with no plant supply limitations.

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