Amazon jungle plant compound blocks tissue destruction

Scientists at Case Western Reserve University's School of Medicine have published in the Journal of Inflammation a remarkable discovery with a natural product derived from the Amazon rainforest.

The discovery's unique actions suggest a broad set of applications in various joint, skin and gastrointestinal diseases, including osteoarthritis and irritable bowel syndrome.

The publication revealed that Progrado, an extract from a rainforest tree called Croton palanostigma, was a remarkably potent antioxidant and prevented the destruction of human cartilage by molecular s scissors called matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). According to the researchers, these enzymes cut collagen, which forms the backbone of the cartilage, into tiny pieces during states of inflammation and alter the fabric that holds tissues together.

“This is an exciting finding,” said Tariq Haqqi, professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University/University Hospitals of Cleveland and the lead investigator and senior author of the study. “This is the first time a natural product has been shown to directly block these molecular scissors while showing potential to stimulate repair. This is a testament to the wound healing properties of this traditional medicine and the distinctive therapeutic opportunities that nature offers.”

Haqqi's research partner, Rainforest Nutritionals Inc., of Raleigh, N.C., develops innovative therapeutics from natural products and worked with the university on the discovery of Progrado®.

Rainforest Nutritionals, along with Haqqi, also developed Reparagen, a natural product for joint health, with a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which also awarded the company with an Innovation Research Award to foster Reparagen's development and commercialization.

Paul Bobrowski, co-author of the study and vice president of Rainforest Nutritionals, said Progrado's molecular targets are highly prized and could lead to a range of therapeutic innovations for conditions ranging from arthritis, irritable bowel disease and wrinkles based on their involvement in tissue injury/repair and aging.

“The publication of these results reflects the commitment that Rainforest Nutritionals has to scientific excellence and innovation using products derived from nature to promote health and an improved quality of life,” Bobrowski said. “These results also build on our success with the highly-effective natural product for joint health, Reparagen, with our NIH-funded preclinical research performed in collaboration with Dr. Haqqi.”

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