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article imageGarlic and fluorine show drug delivery promise

By Tim Sandle     Dec 14, 2017 in Science
A new study has reported success, in terms of drug delivery, with the unusual combination of garlic and fluorine. This partly relates to garlic’s use as a traditional medicine.
It’s the case of ancient medicine meeting modern technology. For centuries the allium root vegetable garlic has been used as a medicine, from the times of Ancient Greece to boost the stamina of athletes to treatments in World War II for gangrene.
With the wartime treatment, garlic was partly effective due to its natural antibiotic properties. It is this aspect that the new study builds upon, strengthening the properties of garlic through fluorination.
The study comes from Professor Eric Block (University at Albany) and Dr. Shaker A. Mousa (Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences). The experimental hypothesis was to examine whether adding fluorine into natural garlic-derived compounds boosts the beneficial biological activity of garlic.
Garlic cloves
Garlic cloves
Photo by Ian-S
Fluorine has a rich chemistry, encompassing organic and inorganic domains. It combines with metals, nonmetals, metalloids, and most noble gases. It is also common to the pharmaceutical sector, found in many types of drugs including those designed to lower cholesterol or to tackle stomach ulcers.
Bringing together garlic and fluorine was an inspired one. In a statement provided to Digital Journal, Professor Block comments: “Since its discovery, the antibiotic properties found in garlic compounds have been the subject of extensive research.”
He then adds: “Given the great importance of fluorine in medicinal chemistry and chemical biology, we were interested in observing the effect that fluorine substitution would have on the chemical reactivity and biological activity of garlic compounds. Such fluorinated analogs were presently unknown.”
A nurse prepares a kit for drug addicts at a needle exchange facility located at St Goeran's ho...
A nurse prepares a kit for drug addicts at a needle exchange facility located at St Goeran's hospital in Stockholm, on April 2, 2014
Jonathan Nackstrand, AFP/File
This led to a series of experiments whereby the researchers modified garlic compounds by replacing hydrogen atoms with fluorine atoms. They then tested out the compound using chick embryo eggs to test out the effectiveness of the compound as a anti-angiogenesis agent (cancer tumor blocking).
The experimental data showed that the modified compounds were effective in terms of biological activity and hold promise as future drug therapies.
The findings are published in the journal Molecules. The research paper is headed “Fluorinated Analogs of Organosulfur Compounds from Garlic (Allium sativum): Synthesis, Chemistry and Anti-Angiogenesis and Antithrombotic Studies.”
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