Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Sherbrooke [CHUS]
Domaine : cancer
Programme chercheurs de collège
The culture of common milkweed (Asclepias Syriaca) is rapidly expanding in Quebec in order to use its fiber, American silk, as thermal insulation or as an absorbent in the event of an oil spill. But this native plant could conceal another treasure: a new drug against cancer.
Indeed, some cardenolides (a class of compounds that are found in several plants, including other varieties of milkweed) have demonstrated anti-cancer properties in vitro (on cells in culture). The aim of this research project is to carry out a bioguided purification of the constituents of common milkweed in order to obtain a molecule that could limit the proliferation of cancer cells. To do this, the leaves and the latex (the white liquid that flows when the plant is injured) will be harvested and subjected to various methods of extraction and fractionation to separate the different constituents. Each fraction will be tested in vitro for its ability to limit cancer cell proliferation. The active fractions themselves will be repeatedly fractionated and tested until a pure molecule is obtained.
Detailed analysis of this molecule will establish its chemical structure. In addition, it will also be tested in vitro on a variety of cancer cell types in order to determine its therapeutic potential. Finally, a pharmacological analysis will define its mechanisms of action at the molecular level, with the aim of improving its efficiency by chemically modifying certain parts of the molecule.