Greening your drugs

Thanks to Tom Nicolay of Research Advantage for the tip on the booming botanical and plant-derived drugs market.

According to market research firm BCC Research, the global market for botanical and plant-derived drugs was worth $19.5 billion last year and is expected to reach $32.9 billion in 2013 for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11%.

“Evidence of plant-derived compounds taking on a more significant role in the pharmaceutical market today is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s carving out of a new drug approval pathway for botanical drugs in 2004, and approving the first botanical based on these guidelines in 2006.” - BCC

Plant-derived drugs generated $19.5 billion in 2008 and is expected to increase to $30.5 billion in 2013, for a CAGR of 9.4%. Botanical drugs were worth $127,000 in 2008, but this segment is expected to grow at a CAGR of 651.7% to reach $2.4 billion in 2013. BCC noted that one botanical product will translate into 12 approved drugs by 2013.

In related news, a researcher from the Michigan State University says he was able to develop a green chemistry processing that could pave the way for a more cleaner and more efficient production of cancer-fighting paclitaxel – also known as the blockbuster drug Taxol.

Since 1967, paclitaxel has been made by synthetically modifying an intermediate substance isolated from yew needles using toxic solvents or by fermenting cell cultures. MSU chemist Kevin Walker says he has been using natural enzymes instead.

“In our method we’re able to apply green chemistry approaches to make a final product that is more efficacious, or more effective than the parent compound. And for that consumer that will translate into lower health care costs, and they’re not only getting a compound at less expense but they’re getting a more effective compound that’s been modified by bio-catalytic means.” - Kevin Walker

You can learn more about their development from the vid below:

In another development, Iowa State University chemist Nikki Pohl was able to develop a more efficient synthesis technology that can fabricate a custom-order, complex carbohydrate molecule in 24 hours. Current commercial technology requires six to 12 months for the same molecule at a cost that can be 10 times higher than Pohl’s technology.

Possible applications for this technology include new vaccines, new diagnostic tests for illnesses and better bio-based products.

Pohl launched a startup company called LuCELLa Biosciences to license the technology and use it to produce and market carbohydrate molecules for researchers at universities, government agencies and private pharmaceutical companies.

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