CARBONDALE — With a little bit of moss, Aldwin Anterola, hopes to make a more affordable anti-cancer drug.
The assistant professor in plant biology at SIUC is using moss to try and make a more cost effective way to produce the chemotherapy drug Taxol. He will discuss his research at the SIUC Technology
and Innovation Expo on Oct. 8, at
Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Building.
Taxol is produced from the Pacific Yew tree, which Anterola is scarce and led to higher prices. He said there have been discoveries on how to make the drug from the tree’s clippings.
“Even with the advances it’s still expensive,” Anterola said.
Anterola transfers the abilities of the yew to the Physcomitrella patens moss to find an alternate production for the drug. Work on the ent-kaurene/kauranol synthase in the moss revealed that a biosynthetic machinery controlled by a single gene can be diverted to produce anticancer compounds.
Anterola said with the expenses patients build up from doctor’s visits and procedures, “the only thing that can be cut is the drugs.”
He said he began looking into the process because he knows a lot of people with cancer and because Taxol was discovered through public funding.
“I think we owe the public since taxpayer money led to discovering Taxol,” Anterola said. “We should do something about the cost of Taxol.”