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Synthetic Drug Found in Nature: Tramadol in African Peach Options
 
Vodsel
#1 Posted : 9/17/2013 10:45:12 PM

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Publication Date: September 17, 2013

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In another example of nature beating chemists, the African plant Nauclea latifolia has been found to be a natural source of the synthetic opioid tramadol. First marketed in 1977, tramadol is frequently used to relive moderate to moderately-severe pain. While other synthetic drugs have later been found in nature, this is the first instance where the discovery involves clinically viable concentrations.

Colloquially known as the ‘African peach’ or ‘pin cushion tree’, N. latifolia is a flowering, sub-Saharan evergreen that grows widely across Central and West Africa and is used by local populations to treat a wide variety of ailments – including epilepsy, malaria, general pain and many infectious diseases.


Quote:
‘The work described has been performed in a rigorous manner, and the highly experienced investigative team has taken great pains to show that tramadol is actually a natural product produced by its plant of origin, Nauclea latiolia,’ says Douglas Kinghorn, a medicinal chemist from the Ohio State University, who did not take part in this study. ‘This report…shows that the subject of ethnopharmacology still has much to offer biomedical research in terms of drug discovery.’

Reference of the study in online journal.
 

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alert
#2 Posted : 9/17/2013 11:47:02 PM
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Interesting stuff! I didn't realize tramadol was first marketed in the 70's either, I thought Ultram came out in the late 90s. It must have been released internationally before being marketed in the US.

I love that we found what we thought was a novel compound in nature.
 
alert
#3 Posted : 10/12/2013 4:16:08 PM
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Wasn't sure where to post this but I found it interesting..
Quote:

Synthetic drug found in nature

In another example of nature beating chemists, the African plant Nauclea latifolia has been found to be a natural source of the synthetic opioid tramadol. First marketed in 1977, tramadol is frequently used to relieve moderate to moderately-severe pain. While other synthetic drugs have later been found in nature, this is the first instance where the discovery involves clinically viable concentrations.

Colloquially known as the ‘African peach’ or ‘pin cushion tree’, N. latifolia is a flowering, sub-Saharan evergreen that grows widely across Central and West Africa and is used by local populations to treat a wide variety of ailments – including epilepsy, malaria, general pain and many infectious diseases.

To uncover the source of the plant’s reported pain killing effect, the researchers fractioned methanolic extracts of the plant by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The resulting fractions were then tested in an assay using live mice, revealing the fraction with the greatest analgesic properties.

‘Our results indicate that high amounts of the analgesic drug, tramadol, can be obtained through a simple extraction procedure from Nauclea latifolia found in Cameroon or sub-Saharan areas,’ says Michel De Waard, a neuroscientist at the Université Joseph Fourier. De Waard adds that the root of the plant could be viably used as a source of tramadol because of the significantly high concentrations of the drug – over 1% of the original dry content.

The team used NMR and HRM spectroscopy, as well as x-ray crystallography, to determine the structure and confirm it as tramadol. Further spectroscopic and isotope ratio analyses confirmed that the compound extracted was indeed natural in origin, and not a by-product of cross-contamination. This unexpected discovery supports the traditional uses of N. latifolia roots in the treatment of pain; however, although other parts of the plant are also used in traditional remedies, the team found no analgesic compounds in the rest of the plant.

While it is probably too early to speculate on the widespread cultivation of N. latifolia to make tramadol, the team have developed a simplified process for extracting the drug and are hopeful this might be of benefit to local communities. De Waard explains that while synthetic tramadol is not a costly drug in most developing countries, it is still expensive for many African citizens.

‘The work described has been performed in a rigorous manner, and the highly experienced investigative team has taken great pains to show that tramadol is actually a natural product produced by its plant of origin, Nauclea latiolia,’ says Douglas Kinghorn, a medicinal chemist from the Ohio State University, who did not take part in this study. ‘This report…shows that the subject of ethnopharmacology still has much to offer biomedical research in terms of drug discovery.’

While the study focussed exclusively on N. latifolia from Cameroon, several other species of Nauclea also grow across Africa and the team are now investigating if they also make tramadol, as well as just how the plant makes the drug.




Makes you wonder what other naturally occurring "synthetic" drugs we have yet to discover.

 
dreamer042
#4 Posted : 10/12/2013 4:45:05 PM

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One step cloer to finding the LSD tree Wink

This is really cool, thanks for sharing. Thumbs up
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benzyme
#5 Posted : 10/12/2013 4:49:57 PM

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Quote:
In another example of nature beating chemists..


lolwut

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dooby
#6 Posted : 10/12/2013 11:12:04 PM

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dreamer042 wrote:
One step cloer to finding the LSD tree Wink



Fingers crossed!
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benzyme
#7 Posted : 10/13/2013 2:22:52 AM

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i wouldn't hold my breath. ethyltransferases are far rarer in nature than four-leaf clovers.
"Nothing is true, everything is permitted." ~ hassan i sabbah
"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." -Max Planck


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universecannon
#8 Posted : 10/13/2013 4:33:07 AM



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anrchy
#9 Posted : 10/16/2013 3:58:12 AM

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Hahaha "acid trees" hahaha

Technically you could say that every single chemical possible could be found in nature somewhere in this universe.

I wonder what the antimatter version of Dmt is like.
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Global
#10 Posted : 10/16/2013 4:03:29 AM

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anrchy wrote:


I wonder what the antimatter version of Dmt is like.


It's probably like taking your sock and turning it inside-out.
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D.REYx420
#11 Posted : 10/16/2013 4:37:43 AM

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very cool, I wonder if they will find any other synthetic drugs in general in the plant or plants of the area.
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nen888
#12 Posted : 10/16/2013 4:42:11 AM
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..remember DMT was a 'synthetic' before it was found in a plant..
 
Du57mi73
#13 Posted : 10/16/2013 4:07:58 PM

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I can imagine them eventually finding a 2C variant in nature eventually.

As for Tramadol, that's pretty amazing. Tramadol is a pretty safe and powerful opiod. I'm glad it was tramadol found and not fentanyl. Lol. I guess this also means that african countries can start cashing in there trees for money. +1 for medicine, +1 for starving african babies.
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vineseeker
#14 Posted : 10/16/2013 5:38:28 PM

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Somewhere is the jungle or in africa there is the lsd tree. Smile

We have to find that tree! Big grin
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spinCycle
#15 Posted : 10/17/2013 2:37:19 AM

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vineseeker wrote:
Somewhere is the jungle or in africa there is the lsd tree. Smile

We have to find that tree! Big grin


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AluminumFoilRobots
#16 Posted : 10/20/2013 4:14:10 PM

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Pretty darn weird. I must disagree with the above sentiment that tramadol is safe, it's metabolizes are mu opioid agonists while its primary form is a fairly nasty SNRI most closely related to (I think) the antidepressant "Effexor" which is perhaps the most difficult antidepressant to discontinue, from the reporting of a friend who was prescribed for a while.

The withdrawals can last a month, and my wife's mother was switched to this for a very short period (she is a cancer patient) from hydrocodone to this, and her oncologist warned her quite sternly about the potential toxicity of this drug, and that it was nothing to mess with. The seizure threshold thing is scary too.

But, regardless, it's great to see that nature has already invented so many things, with so many multifarious uses that we should really be finding all our cures in plants. On topic - three plants, poppy kratom and this funny tree, all produce usable amounts of painkillers and are all highly effective- what on earth are they doing producing all of these funky analogues, semi and fully synthetic painkillers for?
I guess that s not a real question
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corpus callosum
#17 Posted : 10/20/2013 4:38:26 PM

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That's not the half of it;check this link re an orchid producing.....wait for it.....Oxycodone!

http://www.ecology.kee.hu/pdf/0302_029038.pdf
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Mindlusion
#18 Posted : 10/20/2013 5:53:10 PM

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[quote=corpus callosum]That's not the half of it;check this link re an orchid producing.....wait for it.....Oxycodone!

http://www.ecology.kee.hu/pdf/0302_029038.pdf[/quote]

Oh wow, the Germans weren't novel after all
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alert
#19 Posted : 10/20/2013 6:02:32 PM
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[quote=corpus callosum]That's not the half of it;check this link re an orchid producing.....wait for it.....Oxycodone!

http://www.ecology.kee.hu/pdf/0302_029038.pdf[/quote]

Interesting stuff, learn something new everyday. It is kind of surprising to me that the insect brain reacts to opiates. Does that mean that the insects' brains have developed their own opiate receptors, or is it theoretically possible for a drug to work without a specific receptor for the chemical effect? It has been a while since I took a biology class.

The original post mentions "While other synthetic drugs have later been found in nature, this is the first instance where the discovery involves clinically viable concentrations." I wonder if this could be one of the other instances they were talking about.

One step closer to an LSD tree Pleased
 
AluminumFoilRobots
#20 Posted : 10/23/2013 9:30:30 PM

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One step closer to an LSD tree


O
heeeell yeeah
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