john simpson

Pine needles extract to help fight flu?

Blog Post created by john simpson on Nov 8, 2010

Taken from the Boston Globe (Boston, Mass.: daily circulation  232,432)
"Maine pine needles yield valuable Tamiflu  material"




A little-known raw material used in the most widely used  antiviral flu medicine comes from the fruit of trees native to China. It turns  out it also comes from pine trees in Maine's backyard. Researchers at the  University of Maine at Orono say they've found a new and relatively easy way to  extract shikimic acid -- a key ingredient in the drug Tamiflu -- from pine tree  needles. Shikimic acid can be removed from the needles of white pine, red pine  and other conifer trees simply by boiling the needles in water, said chemistry  professor Ray Fort Jr. Additional testing is needed, and it remains to be seen  if there's demand for the product or if the process can applied commercially in  the private sector, he said...Testing so far has taken place in a laboratory and  additional large-scale testing is needed before the process is passed on to a  private company for commercial development, Fort said. The goal is to eventually  make pine needles economically valuable for Maine's forestry industry. "We're  looking at maybe one more year in the laboratory," Fort said. The research was  presented in August at an American Chemical Society national  meeting in Boston and reported in the Portland Press Herald. Fort plans to have  the results published in a scientific journal.