Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains contain a valuable resource that could help fight cancer.
Valtcho Jeliazkov, director of the University of Wyoming’s Sheridan Research and Extension Center, found that accessions (members of a plant collection in a particular location) of Rocky Mountain juniper and creeping junipers contain relatively high concentrations of podophyllotoxin (PPT), which is achemical used to facilitate production of the anti-cancer drugs etoposide, etopophos and teniposide.
“Those drugs are used to treat lung and testicular cancer, neuroblastoma, hepatoma and other tumors,” said Jeliazkov. “Other derivatives of PPT are used to treat psoriasis and malaria and are being tested as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. PPT has also demonstrated antiviral activity.”