Cardiff Researchers Found a New 'Highly-Efficient' Method of Extracting Drug Compounds [UPDATED]
Feb 20, 2017 07:12 AM EST
Researchers from a Cardiff University team have developed a new, highly-efficient method of extracting disease-fighting compounds. The method especially gives better yields of anti-malaria drugs.
"Sesquiterpenes" can be found in spicy foods, plants and beer, and are commonly used in drugs to fight colds, cancer and malaria. The process of synthetically making it in the lab have been so far very difficult, often time-consuming and expensive.
Instead of trying to separate them using the traditional "batch reaction" method in a flask, the Cardiff University team has used capillary-type tubes to squeeze solutions containing the enzymes and compounds with other liquids in alternating drops through the tubes. The new mixing method is able to create thousands of segments where they mix, react and separate, making it very efficient with many other advantages, according to BBC.
"We think that, with some other tricks, we can create a synthetic route to artemisinin that may be viable," Prof Rudolf Allemann said, calling the method "a major new development" in synthetic chemistry. The method has allowed the team to double the usual production yield of a compound which is used to make "artemisinin", the anti-malaria drug that won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2015, which is not widely available in some parts of the world.
Prof Allemann believes that the Cardiff team has definitely made one key step in producing a drug that serves a worldwide need. He said that the new method would even help to attract companies willing to manufacture the drug.
Prof Thomas Wirth, an expert in micro-fluidics, said the method can be used for a wide range of reactions. "For 10 years or more, we have used these aspects to enhance organic chemistry - to make it better, safer and definitely more efficient," he said.
The Cardiff University researchers also said the new method may give researchers easy access to lots of valuable compounds for products beyond drugs and medicine. The Rothamsted Research stands on the same ground, as it believes that fragrances, food supplements and agrochemicals for pest control would greatly benefit from newly discovered methods, with the impacts expanding the overall chemical ecology.