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From Carnivorous Plants to the Medicine Cabinet? Anti-Fungal Agents in Pitcher Plants Investigated

In the tropics, carnivorous plants trap unsuspecting prey in a cavity filled with liquid known as a "pitcher."

The moment insects like flies, ants and beetles fall into a pitcher, the plant's enzymes are activated and begin dissolving their new meal, obtaining nutrients such as carbon and nitrogen which are difficult to extract from certain soils. Carnivorous plants also possess a highly developed set of compounds and secondary metabolites to aid in their survival.

These compounds could serve as a new class of anti-fungal drugs for use in human medicine, says Prof. Aviah Zilberstein of Tel Aviv University's Department of Plant Sciences. In a study conducted together with Dr. Haviva Eilenberg from her lab, Prof. Esther Segal from the Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Prof. Shmuel Carmeli from the School of Chemistry, the unusual components from the plants' pitchers were found effective as anti-fungal drugs against human fungal infections widespread in hospitals. The primary results are encouraging.
 
 

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