Animal & Human Health

During his time at PBI-NRC, Dr. John Balsevich, natural product chemist, obtained some very interesting results when he investigated Prairie Carnation seed in his lab’. 

John  took the saponins  to the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon to investigate their specific activity against human cancer cell lines. He worked with Dr. Hicky from the Cancer Research Center and as literature suggests, they found a selective effect of specific saponin fractions against cancer cell growth causing apoptosis while healthy control cells survived.[1]  Irving Ramirez, pharmacology student of U of S at the time, analyzed many of the molecules and their effects for his Ph.D thesis.[2]

Saponins have a wide range of human health care, therapeutic and medical applications, [3]. The triterpenoid saponins for example, from the soap bark tree, Quillaja saponaria, have immune-stimulatory properties and when combined with steroids such as cholesterol have been investigated extensively as adjuvants for vaccine formulation. Additionally, plant extracts from leguminous plants such as soybean and alfalfa which also contain saponins, are known to bind to and lower blood cholesterol.[4]

[1] Balsevich JJ, Ramierz-Eroza, Hickie RA, Dunlop DM, Bishop GG, Deibert LK, Antiproliferative activity of Saponaria vaccaria constituents and related compounds, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2011

[2] Francis et al. 2002; Sparg et al., 2004

[3]   Irving Javier Ramirez-Erosa  [2008]  Studies On Triterpene Saponins from Saponaria vaccaria Seed and their Apothosis inducing effect on Human Cancer Lines, Ph.D., University of Saskactchewan, Canada 

[4] Liu, Yaguang, 199, Soybean drug and new method of extracting soybean saponins ,  US patent US 5968516 A, filed October 3 1995,  issued October 19 1999.