Give a little catnip to a cat and that cat may go crazy. Now scientists are studying the chemistry behind catnip to determine how it might be used for medicinal purposes.
Researchers from the UK’s John Innes Centre report that while most plants form terpenes with a single enzyme, catnip terpene production requires a two-step process similar to the blending of anti-cancer drugs vincristine and vinblastine. That’s why scientists believe that understanding nepetalactone synthesis could offer insight into the production of chemicals like vinblastine for treating cancer.
Who knew that catnip could be so powerful and useful? The next time you give your cat catnip, you could be helping science.