Tatarinow’s aster is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a number of ailments; the plant contains an active ingredient known as astin – and it is this agent which cancer researchers are now investigating. However, the plant does not produce the astins itself, as was assumed for a long time; instead, they are made by a fungus that lives in the tissue of the flowers. The discovery was made by an international team including Dr. Thomas Schafhauser and Professor Wolfgang Wohlleben from the University of Tübingen, and Dr. Linda Jahn, Professor Jutta Ludwig-Müller and Professor Karl-Heinz van Pée of the Technische Universität Dresden. The researchers were successful in isolating the fungus, Cyanodermella asteris, and in cultivating it independently of the host plant. They have therefore laid the foundations for large-scale biotechnological production of astins. The study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The French members of the team are from the University of Lille, INRA, ISA, the University of Artois, University Littoral Côte d’Opale and the ICV – Institut Charles Viollette.
Read the research paper: Thomas Schafhauser, Linda Jahn, Norbert Kirchner, Andreas Kulik, Liane Flor, Alexander Lang, Thibault Caradec, David P Fewer, Kaarina Sivonen, Willem JH van Berkel, Philippe Jacques, Tilmann Weber, Harald Gross, Karl-Heinz van Pée, Wolfgang Wohlleben and Jutta Ludwig-Müller: Antitumor astins originate from the fungal endophyte Cyanodermella asteris living within the medicinal plant Aster tataricus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences