Diospyrin from the tree demonstrates therapeutic potential
A medicinal tree is a plant from which substances of medical value can be distilled or extracted. Some of these trees are used in alternative and complementary medicine but have also found their way into conventional medicine.
These trees can aide in pain relief, fevers, headaches and more. The camphor tree found in China and Asia has been used for its extract as a cough suppressant and used in ointments to provide pain relief.
According to a new study a compound in the tooth brush tree called diospyrin has been shown to have
Therapeutic potential especially against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, according to the study’s summary.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal. TB disease was once the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC.
Many of the current drugs to treat the disease are almost 50 years old and new antibacterial compounds are needed.
Diospyrin the compound from the toothbrush tree is under research as a treatment for TB. It appears Diospyrin binds to a novel site on a well-known enzyme, called DNA gyrase, and inactivates the enzyme. DNA gyrase is essential for bacteria and plants but is not present in animals or humans. Diospyrin has been accepted as an effective and safe drug target for antibiotics.
Professor Tony Maxwell from the John Innes Centre, Department of Biological Chemistry stated "The way that diospyrin works helps to explain why it is effective against drug-sensitive and drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis.’
The antibacterial properties of the tree are used in conventional medicine for oral health and to treat medical complaints such bronchitis, pleurisy and venereal disease and the twigs of the tree are used as tooth brushes.
In their summary researchers write “We propose that diospyrin bind to GyrB at a novel site close to the ATPase site. This novel mode of action could be exploited to develop new antibacterial agents.”
Professor Maxwell said "Extracts from plants used in traditional medicine provide a source for novel compounds that may have antibacterial properties, which may then be developed as antibiotics.”
In closing he comments "This highlights the value of ethnobotany (the scientific study of the relationships that exist between people and plants) and the value of maintaining biodiversity to help us address global problems."
This study appears in The Journal of Biological Chemistry.
In 2010, researchers Professor Yiannis Samaras and Dr Effimia Eriotou, from the Technological Educational Institute of Ionian Islands, in Greece, found that essential oils could be an inexpensive and effective alternative to antibiotics and potentially used to combat drug-resistant hospital superbugs.
These oils include thyme essential oil from thyme plant that could almost completely eliminate bacteria within 60 minutes.
The essential oils of thyme and cinnamon (cinnamon is the inner bark of a tropical evergreen tree) were found to be particularly efficient antibacterial agents against a range of Staphylococcus species. Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are extremely difficult to treat.
The research team believes essential oils could have diverse medical and industrial applications.