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.