Jatropha curcas (JC) is a multipurpose perennial plant that belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family and is native to arid and semiarid tropical regions worldwide. It has many attributes and considerable potential for renewable energy, fish and livestock feeding. Despite its rich application as a renewable source and for animal feeding, JC has barely been explored for its medicinal potential. Here we review several patents related to JC that show it has been underused for medicinal purposes. For example, only one invention disclosure to date utilizes JC, combined with three other plants, in a preparation for wound healing. Motivated by support from the Brazilian funding agencies and anecdotal accounts in Brazil of the medicinal value of JC, we performed a series of pilot studies that demonstrate that JC is able to protect skeletal muscle cells in vitro against the deleterious effects of ethanol. We were able to determine that JC’s effects are mediated by the up regulation of HSP60, a critical mitochondrial heat shock related protein that is essential for intracellular REDOX regulation. Given the fact that ethanol myopathy accounts for more than 50% of all cases of myopathy worldwide, we hope that our studies will sparkle new interest from the scientific community to explore the medicinal properties of Jatropha curcas, including the development of new patents leading to new drugs and new targets for the treatment of muscle diseases and other human diseases.
Keywords: Jatropha curcas, bioenergy, renewable energy, biodiesel, medicinal plants, northeastern Brazil, ethanol myopathy, ethanol toxicity, heat shock protein 60 (HSP60), gene expression, muscle performance, muscle contraction, muscle contractility, patents