Anti-cancer activity from new-world ricins

Biological systems have a complex chemistry which tend to exhibit functions under conditions of demand and proteins are one such prime classes of bio-molecules, persisting in organisms with a tremendous degree of diversity in their constituent composition and functions.Characterization of distinct candidates of proteins for functional vitality is a consensus process, independent of organism and has been followed for Castor here in the context of functional evaluation of strange variants of toxin,ricin and agglutinin in bio-medicine.

Ricin protein is complex protein with well defined lethal functional activity in human cells but its variation inside the castor plant and populations has not been elucidated extensively either on materialistic or functional basis which triggered researchers from Taiwan to initiate freak identification of ricin protein and related toxins from castor seed,richest source of castor toxins.To address this question,they adopted a protein fractionation chromatographic and electrophoresis techniques to resolve  multiple variants of ricin and evaluating the activity of purified, anomalous forms.The results indicated three principal isoforms of ricin(A,B,C) and an agglutinin, in which toxic activity was seen to a maximum level from ricin A upon oral feeding of it in mice and further observation from them revealed that the concerned protein isolate turned out to a novel member.The scientists subsequently subjected it to display its impact against tumour cells and noticed cell division inhibitory activity which was also selective and differential in mode of action to diseased cells.

It is an exciting study to see as the protein chemists followed an elegant and lucid experimental design but ended up with a potent toxin coupled to anti-tumor activity.However the thing that is to be monitored is the contrasting functional behaviour of this new toxin between an intact organism and a cancer cell line which obviously demands for a proper bio-safety evaluation to scale up the promotion of this toxin (declared as a lectin as per authour’s interpretations) for any disease management actions in humans.

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Castor oil targetting mosquito larvae

The castor oil plant, which is used to make laxatives, now possibly holds the key to controlling the mosquito menace in a ‘green’ way.

A study conducted by the department of zoonosis at Haffkine Institute for Training, Research and Testing, India, has revealed that castor oil can be used to kill mosquito larvae.

In laboratory tests, the castor seed oil extract was able to kill 50% of the larvae in 24 hours.

“Among the various herbal plants that we tested, the oil extract from the seed of the castor plant showed the best results for larvicidal [killing larvae] activity as well as inhibiting growth of Aedes aegypti mosquito larvae,” said Dr Saroj Bapna, scientific officer of the department.

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