The platano (Phloris platano) plant is an aromatic herb with a long history of medicinal uses, which is why it’s also one of the most sought-after plants in India.
The plant has been used in Ayurveda and has also been used as a traditional medicine for millennia.
But this new discovery could change the way we look at it.
The platano’s unique ability to release and bind nutrients into the bloodstream is known as purification, and it is believed to improve the function of blood vessels and also help prevent heart attacks and stroke.
While it is currently the most popular plant used in India, the platanols unique ability is only known to a handful of scientists.
Now, a team of researchers led by Dr Ashish Chawla of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has shown that the platane can help treat cancer by blocking the effects of toxic metals.
The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.
It involves a team at IISc, led by a PhD student from IIT Delhi, and the Indian government’s Center for Chemical Science and Technology (CCSST), which conducted the research.
The team first isolated the compound that blocks the binding of heavy metals to the mitochondria in the platana’s leaves and then isolated the chemical molecule that activates this protective effect.
The findings are particularly interesting because they show that the chemical that activates the protective effect of the platanas leaves can be found in other plants, including a new species of plant, as well as in bacteria and viruses.
“Platanas have been used for thousands of years for many purposes in India and have been cultivated in different countries,” Dr Chawlas said.
“But until now, we had no way of knowing if the protective effects of the plant were mediated by the mitochondrion or other parts of the body.”
Dr Chawls study found that blocking the toxic metal toxicity of platanas could be a novel approach to cancer treatment.
“The discovery of this molecule is an exciting example of a new, novel therapeutic agent that can be developed for cancer, and we hope it will be useful for many diseases,” Dr Charanjit Singh, IISC director of research and innovation, said.
Dr Chahans work was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through the Center for Molecular Biophysics and Molecular Genetics, in partnership with the Centre for Chemical Sciences and Technology of India.