In an examination of Australian plants for substances with antitumor activity, extracts of two botanically related species, Ochrosia moorei and Excavatia coccinea, were tested by the National Cancer Institute, U.S.A. They were found active against several transplantable tumors in mice; the activity was mostly accounted for by two alkaloids, ellipticine and 9-methoxy-ellipticine (Dalton et al, 1967). These alkaloids are widely distributed in the related genera Aspidosperma and Ochrosia. Ellipticine was first identified in extracts of leaves of O. elliptica Labill. (family Apocynaceae), a small tropical evergreen tree (Goodwin et al., 1959); the genus Ochrosia is a member of the tribe Plumiereae along with the alkaloid-producing genus Rauwolfia. Ellipticine and reserpine alkaloids, which are both based on indole, often occur together in the same plant material. Kilminster et al. (1972), in a search for a good botanical source of the alkaloids, extracted ellipticines from various parts of the plant Bleekeria vitiensis, a small tree indigenous to the island of Fiji. Ellipticine itself was not present in the leafy material but occurred in other organs of the plant ; 9-methoxyellipticine was the major alkaloid and occurred in all parts of the plant examined, the bark and wood being an especially rich source. Several chemical syntheses of ellipticines have been devised (see Guthrie et al., 1974 for references).
KeywordsIntercalate Agent Intercalative Binding Developmental Therapeutics Program Apparent Association Constant Ellipticine Derivative
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