Researchers discover molecular mechanisms of an African folk medicine

phys.org | 11/14/2018 | Staff
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Researchers in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine have discovered the molecular basis for therapeutic actions of an African folk medicine used to treat a variety of illnesses and disorders including diabetes, pain, headaches, paralysis and epilepsy.

The herbal medicine, a leaf extract from the shrub Mallotus oppositifolius, has been used across Africa for centuries. Until now, the molecular mechanism was not completely understood. The discovery, published in Science Advances, found that two components of the Mallotus leaf extract bind to a previously unrecognized binding site on KCNQ1, a potassium channel essential for controlling electrical activity in many human organs, including the heart, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, thyroid and pancreas.

Plants - Source - Compounds - Ion - Channels

"Plants are a rich source of compounds that modulate ion channels. We discovered the compounds from the African folk medicine actually bind to a novel site, positioned between the channel pore and its voltage sensor. In addition, we found one of the compounds is of a chemical class previously not recognized as a KCNQ channel opener. These dual discoveries may facilitate future development of safer, more effective drugs."

The UCI research team, comprising Angele De Silva, BS, postdoctoral fellow Rían Manville, Ph.D., and principal investigator Geoffrey Abbott, MSc, Ph.D., screened individual compounds from...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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