Plant natural products: history, limitations and the potential of cambial meristematic cells.
Biotechnol Genet Eng Rev. 2012 ;28:47-59. PMID: 22616481
Humans have utilised plant derived natural products as medicines for millenia. Moreover, many contemporary pharmaceuticals are also natural products or derivatives thereof. However, the full potential of these compounds remains to be exploited because often they are: complex and difficult to synthesise; found in low quantities; produced by undomesticated and sometimes rare plants; and, their synthesis is routinely influenced by weather conditions. Potentially, the in vitro culture of cells from the corresponding plant species could circumvent some of these problems but the growth of plant cells on an industrial scale is also problematic. The recent isolation and culture of cambial meristematic cells (CMCs), stem cells which ordinarily generate the plant vasculature, may now provide a key platform technology to help realise the full potential of plant natural products.