Navigation Links
New light on medicinal benefits of plants
Date:12/14/2011

Scientists are about to make publicly available all the data they have so far on the genetic blueprint of medicinal plants and what beneficial properties are encoded by the genes identified.

The resources, to be released on Thursday, follow a $6 million initiative to study how plant genes contribute to producing various chemical compounds, some of which are medicinally important.

"Our major goal has been to capture the genetic blueprints of medicinal plants for the advancement of drug discovery and development," said Joe Chappell, professor of plant biochemistry in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture and coordinator for the Medicinal Plant Consortium (MPC).

Project partner Dr Sarah O'Connor at the John Innes Centre will now work with her research group towards the first full genetic sequence of a medicinal plant and will also experiment with combining beneficial properties from different plants to create the first new-to-nature compounds derived from plants. A priority focus will be compounds with anticancer activity.

"Fewer and fewer new drugs have been successfully making it to the marketplace over the last 10 years, in large part because of a reliance on chemical synthesis for making new chemicals," said Chappell.

"Somehow in our fast-track lives, we forgot to take advantage of the lessons provided by Mother Nature. That is all changing now with the recognition that two-thirds of all currently prescribed drugs can be traced back to natural sources and the development of resources such as those in the MPC to facilitate new drug discovery activities."

Some well-known medicines have come from plants. The once ubiquitous foxglove gives us the cardiac muscle stimulant digoxin. The periwinkle plant offers a source for the widely used chemotherapy drugs vincristine and vinblastine. These and many other medicinal plants, often commonly found in household gardens and flower boxes, harbour a wealth of compounds ripe for medicinal applications.

"Just as the sensory properties of plants interact with and trigger your sense of smell, plants' natural compounds can target and cause a reaction within your body. This gives them tremendous pharmaceutical potential," said Chappell.

During this two-year project researchers set out to develop a collection of data that would aid in understanding how plants make chemicals, a process called biosynthesis. This knowledge ultimately could make it possible to engineer plants to produce larger quantities of medicinally useful compounds as well as different versions with other therapeutic potential.

To develop the resources, the researchers studied the genes and chemical profiles of 14 plants known for medicinal properties or compounds with biological activity. These included plants such as foxglove, ginseng, and periwinkle. The findings will help researchers discover how nature's chemical diversity is created and enable them to uncover new drug candidates or increase the efficacy of existing ones.

"The current understanding of molecules and genes involved in the formation of beneficial compounds is very incomplete," said O'Connor, who is also a lecturer in chemical sciences at University of East Anglia.

"However, the ability to conduct genome-wide studies of model plant species has resulted in an explosive increase in our knowledge of and capacity to understand how genes control biological processes and chemical composition".

The MPC project includes participants from the University of Kentucky, Michigan State University, Iowa State University, the University of Mississippi, Purdue University, Texas A&M University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the John Innes Centre in Norwich. The researchers represent a broad spectrum of expertise from plant biology and systematics to analytical chemistry, genetics and molecular biology, and drug development from natural products.


'/>"/>

Contact: Zoe Dunford
zoe.dunford@nbi.ac.uk
44-160-325-5111
Norwich BioScience Institutes
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Dinosaurs with killer claws yield new theory about flight
2. How exposure to irregular light affects plant circadian rhythms
3. Making a light-harvesting antenna from scratch
4. Lighting the way to understanding the brain
5. Graphene lights up with new possibilities
6. Shedding light on the dark matter of the genome
7. New research aims to shed light on how aging affects immunity
8. Smithsonian scientists use fossil feathers reveal lineage of extinct, flightless ibis
9. Genome sequence sheds new light on how plants evolved nitrogen-fixing symbioses
10. Brain, repair thyself: Studies highlight brains resiliency to damage
11. Trees adapt to poor levels of sunlight to effectively process carbon, study shows
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/25/2017)... , Jan. 25, 2017 The Elements ... Management (IAM) lifecycle is comprised of a comprehensive ... the purpose of maintaining digital identities and providing ... and applications. There are significant number of programs ... time to time by optimizing processes and changing ...
(Date:1/23/2017)...  The latest mobile market research from Acuity Market ... The quarterly average price of a biometric smartphone decreased ... 2016.  There are now 120 sub-$150 models on the ... just 28 a year ago at an average price ... Most , Acuity Market Intelligence Principal, "Biometric Smartphones are ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... , Jan. 19, 2017 ... user experience and security for consumer electronics, and ... payment processing systems and cybersecurity solutions, today announced ... enterprises and financial institutions worldwide to bolster security ... the end-to-end secure user authentication platforms they offer, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/16/2017)... , February 16, 2017 ... infusion of innovative telemedicine application, new and leading ... are experiencing a boom worldwide. The healthcare sector ... of technologies, services and new therapies for companies ... (TSX-V: RHT), Cellectar Biosciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: ...
(Date:2/16/2017)... 16, 2017  Dermata Therapeutics, LLC, a biotechnology ... a variety of dermatological diseases, today announced it ... and entered into a $5 million credit facility ... use the capital for general corporate purposes to ... the treatment of serious diseases treated by dermatologists. ...
(Date:2/16/2017)... ... February 16, 2017 , ... AxioMed announced today the ... Harvard trained surgeon, completed the procedure on Monday, Jan. 30 at Andrews Memorial ... physician suffering from degenerative disc disease with radiculomyelopathy, as a result of degenerative ...
(Date:2/16/2017)... , Feb. 16, 2017  Rhythm, ... rare genetic deficiencies that result in life-threatening ... a $41 million mezzanine round of financing ... OrbiMed, MPM Capital, New Enterprise Associates, Pfizer ... undisclosed public healthcare investment fund. Rhythm will ...
Breaking Biology Technology: