Eureka Alert

VIDEO: University of Kentucky pharmacy professor Joe Chappell hopes to unlock the genetic potential of plants that may be future treatments for cancer by sending them into space. Space Tango, located… view more 

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 2, 2018) – Joe Chappell’s latest venture in plant-based drug development could be described, quite literally, as “out of this world.”

Chappell runs one of the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy’s natural products labs, with the specific goal of developing new therapeutics derived from flora. Now, working with UK postdoc Chase Kempinski and a team from Lexington’s own space commercialization company Space Tango, the professor has found a new hypothesis to test in the name of drug development: whether sending plants to space may increase their ability to produce healing properties.

Whether it’s the use of aloe to soothe a sunburn, or ginger to calm an upset stomach, plants have long been a go-to source for medicinal applications. In modern history, many of our blockbuster drugs have humble beginnings in plants. Taxol, a popular drug used to treat breast and gynecologic cancers, was derived from the Pacific yew tree. Artemisinin, isolated from sweet wormwood plants, is deployed around the world for the treatment


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