Ponad dwustuletni botaniczny tekst skierowal uwage badaczy na rosliny lecznicze z wyspy Ambon (Indonezja). Nasiona drzewa Atuna racemosa mialy wg tego tekstu miec szczegolnie silne wlasnosci antybakteryjne i miec wprost rewelacyjne wlasnosci w leczeniu biegunki i innych zakazen.
W laboratorium rzeczywiscie potwierdzono silne przeciwbakteryjne wlasnosci tych nasion.
New York Times
January 16, 2007
17th-Century Remedy; 21st-Century Potency
By NICHOLAS BAKALAR
A 252-year-old botany text may seem an unlikely place to prospect for potential new medical treatments, but a team of scholars have done just that, and the effort may lead to the development of an important new antibiotic.
The researchers are a diverse group: a physician, a neuroscientist, three botanists, a graduate student in molecular biology and an expert in Germanic languages.
The book they studied, “The Ambonese Herbal,” was written by Georg Eberhard Rumpf, now known by the Latinized name Rumphius, an employee of the Dutch East India Company who spent most of his life documenting the properties and uses of the plants of Ambon, an island in Indonesia. The book was published in seven volumes from 1741 to 1755, nearly a half-century after Rumphius’ death.
In some ways, it is a wonder that the work survived at all. In 1670, at the age of 42, Rumphius went blind. In 1687, his still unpublished manuscript and all of his illustrations were destroyed in a fire that swept through the European quarter of Ambon. Undaunted, he dictated a new version and commissioned artists to draw new illustrations.
Fortunately, the second time around he kept a copy of the manuscript. The original was lost when the ship carrying it back to the Netherlands was sunk by a French naval squadron. Still unfazed, Rumphius continued his work, finishing the last volume shortly before his death in 1702.
Eric J. Buenz, an ethnobotanist at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, led the team that wrote a paper about the text, published in the Dec. 23 issue of the British medical journal BMJ. First, Dr. Buenz had Eric M. Beekman, an emeritus professor of Germanic languages at the University of Massachusetts, translate the text into English from the original Dutch and Latin.
Then the researchers used a computer program to seek out possible medicinal compounds by picking out plant names, plant parts and their synonyms and varied spellings and connecting them with symptoms or disorders. They found a promising combination in Rumphius’ description of the curative properties of Atuna racemosa, the atun tree.
The seeds of the tree, Rumphius wrote, “will halt all kinds of diarrhea, but very suddenly, forcefully and powerfully, so that one should use them with care in dysentery cases, because that illness or affliction should not be halted too quickly: and some considered this medicament a great secret, and relied on it completely.”
To Dr. Buenz, this sounded very much like the action of a drug on the bacterial flora of the intestines.
So the researchers organized an expedition to Samoa, where Dr. Buenz had done previous work with traditional healers and where the atun tree also grows. There was some initial difficulty in collecting specimens, because the tree, whose wood is highly resistant to rotting, is widely used on the island as building material.
“We had to go pretty far back in the bush to find a grove of trees that was still growing,” Dr. Buenz said.
Specimens finally in hand, the scientists began the laboratory work. They preserved the leaves and kernels in ethanol, and then prepared alcohol extracts of them. They added various concentrations of the potion to samples of four common bacteria: Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli. The extracts showed antibacterial effect specific to S. aureus and E. coli. The extract made from the kernels was even more effective than that made from the leaves.
Could a new antibiotic be developed from the plant? Dr. Buenz is hopeful, noting that preliminary data have shown that the extract is effective against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or M.R.S.A., a common and sometimes fatal hospital infection resistant to many antibiotics.
M.R.S.A. infections acquired outside the hospital usually cause pimples, boils or other skin lesions.
Dr. Brent A. Bauer, an associate professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic and a co-author of the paper, said the work showed that “we were able to validate what many people already believe, which is that some of this indigenous knowledge that has come down from generation to generation is actually valid.”
Dr. Bauer added, “It’s humbling.”