WSU partners to develop new anti-inflammatory drug

By Scott Weybright, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences

David-GangPULLMAN, Wash. – Work on a new anti-inflammatory drug developed from the medicinal/spice plant turmeric recently received funding from a $225,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NIH-NCCIH).

Researchers at Washington State University’s Institute of Biological Chemistry will collaborate with the start-up company Botanisol LLC to study a newly identified active component, TAI-LCx, and develop better means to isolate it from the plant tissue.

The project will benefit from technology in state-of-the-art research facilities available at WSU, particularly the Murdock Metabolomics Laboratory (MML) and the Tissue Imaging and Proteomics Laboratory (TIPL).

“What we know about TAI-LCx is very encouraging,” said David Gang, WSU professor and Botanisol chief science officer. “With this grant, we’ll learn more about its structure and effect on different inflammatory pathways.”

The grant is number 1 R41 AT008963-01 from the NIH-NCCIH.

Botanisol, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., licensed TAI-LCx from the University of Arizona, which first discovered the component through a multiyear NIH-supported research program. Botanisol’s goal is to create a beneficial product for those suffering from inflammatory disease.

“Inflammatory disease, especially arthritis, is rapidly increasing with the aging population,” Gang said. “The global market for anti-inflammatory drugs is over $60 billion, so it’s a major problem.”

That includes other biotechnology-derived anti-inflammatories like Humira or Enbrel as well as steroids, opiates, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen and aspirin.

Although $12 billion worth of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are sold worldwide each year, they carry a high cost in medical complications, Gang said. According to an NIH article from 2009, NSAIDs are responsible for 100,000 hospitalizations, 17,000 deaths and $2 billion in added healthcare costs in the U.S. each year.

Early published research showed TAI-LCx to be effective at reducing inflammation using biologic pathways different from NSAIDs.

“TAI-LCx is a promising discovery because it reduces inflammation without affecting the COX-2 (cyclooxygenase) enzyme,” said P. Scott Waterhouse, Botanisol’s CEO and co-founder.

Botanisol is a translational biopharmaceuticals company that advances discoveries by applying modern science to known bioactive constituents of plants. For more information, visit


David R. Gang, WSU Institute of Biological Chemistry, 509-335-0550,