Navigation Links
Researchers build new model of bio-exploration
Date:12/11/2007

Two land-grant universities have developed a new approach to global bio-exploration, one that returns most of the fruits of discovery to the countries that provide the raw materials on which the research depends.

The Global Institute for Bio-Exploration, a joint initiative of the University of Illinois and Rutgers University, has become a model of sustainable, non-exploitive research in the developing world.

The program began in 2003 when research teams from the two universities joined forces to work in several former Soviet Union republics under an International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups program funded with $4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Based on lessons learned in Central Asia, the researchers built on this model to create the institute, which is now expanding into Africa and South America.

The institute builds relationships with and trains those in developing countries to prospect for plants that have interesting biological properties, said U. of I. natural resources and environmental sciences professor Mary Ann Lila, a co-founder of the institute.

Rather than the typical bio-prospecting approach, where people take plants back to their labs in Western Europe or the U.S., we teach locals to conduct simple assays in the field, Lila said. When field results identify plants with potentially useful properties, the researchers do follow-up studies in the laboratory.

But when a discovery is made in the field with a local, the intellectual property rights stay there, Lila said. The country is required to use any money it receives from licensing fees or royalties to develop its own research infrastructure and protect wild lands.

Pharmaceutical companies already have shown interest.

So far, the institute also known by the acronym GIBEX has generated 17 licensing agreements, a dozen of them from Central Asian leads, with companies hoping to make use of plants that have medical or cosmetic potential.

The program began in the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Horticulturalists are drawn to the Stans, Lila said, because the region has a rich heritage as a center of fruit and nut production, and because many of the plants that survive there have desirable characteristics.

The Stans are among the most inland countries in the world, she said. They have the coldest winters, the hottest summers. They have mountain ranges. They have plants that are incredibly stressed because of the short growing season and the altitudes. These plants may not grow well, they may not look pretty, but theyre intense with bioactive compounds.

Kazakhstan is where the apple began. Uzbekistan is the home of Ajuga turkestanica, a plant that produces a steroid-like compound with metabolic-stimulating properties. (The Uzbekistan studies were suspended in 2006 because of political instability there.) Two species of Rhodiola, a plant with potential as an antidepressant, are found in this region, along with Artemisia leucodes, an aromatic plant related to tarragon that may be useful in treating inflammation.

The program also is developing techniques for analyzing the soup of chemical compounds in wild plants. By screening plants in the field, the researchers are able to identify biological traits that might not be detectable after harvesting the plants and bringing them into a lab. This screens to nature technique is a departure from the laboratory based, one-enzyme-at-a-time analysis typical of pharmaceutical research, which often fails to detect the therapeutic potential of plants traditionally used by indigenous peoples.

Twenty-five percent of human drugs are based on a template from a plant, Lila said. The pharmaceutical industry is now turning back to researchers in plants to try and have new discoveries, she said. Theyre also looking more and more outside of our borders to see what works in other countries.

The GIBEX model supports the country of exploration in several ways, Lila said. It mines and preserves local knowledge of the medicinal properties of native plants. It trains people to appreciate and study their own natural resources. It builds science infrastructure and it reduces brain drain, giving educated scientists a reason to stay home and explore their own back yards, she said.

These benefits have produced widespread interest in the developing world, and the program is expanding to Africa and South America. Two major conferences on the screens-to-nature model will be held in Tanzania and South Africa in 2008. And in January a delegation from Illinois and Rutgers will train people at the Maquipucuna Reserve, near Quito, Ecuador, to apply the field techniques. (Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, is a U. of I. alumnus, as is the vice president of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito.)

We are having real partnerships with scientists in these countries, Lila said. This way we bring it into the country. We train the country. They stay and they develop their infrastructure there.

The new approach also is being tried in North America, Lila said. An Illinois graduate student, Josh Kellogg, will bring the screens-to-nature techniques to Native American populations in Alaska and North Dakota. This research, the subject of Kelloggs masters thesis, will focus on the anti-diabetic properties of edible plants long used by indigenous people in both states.


'/>"/>

Contact: Diana Yates
diya@uiuc.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign  
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Stanford researchers find culprit in aging muscles that heal poorly
2. UCLA researchers identify markers that may predict diabetes in still-healthy people
3. Mayo Clinic researchers discover new diagnostic test for detecting infection in prosthetic joints
4. Bipolar disorder relapses halved by Melbourne researchers
5. Cell that triggers symptoms in allergy attacks can also limit damage, Stanford researchers find
6. High and mighty: first common height gene identified by researchers behind obesity gene finding
7. Researchers estimate about 9 percent of US children age 8 to 15 meet criteria for having ADHD
8. Majority of 2.4 Million U.S. Children With ADHD Not Diagnosed or Consistently Treated, According to New Gold Standard Study by Cincinnati Childrens Researchers
9. Researchers develop long-lasting growth hormone
10. Jefferson immunology researchers halt lethal rabies infection in brain
11. Purdue researchers develop technology to detect cancer by scanning surface veins
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Researchers build new model of bio-exploration
(Date:2/12/2016)... , ... February 12, 2016 ... ... today announced a new initiative—the Siemens Foundation-PATH Ingenuity Fellowships—to develop the advanced ... will recruit top students from U.S. universities who will draw from Siemens’ ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... ... Each year, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) offers a Combined Sections Meeting. ... Almost 10,000 physical therapists across the country are expected to attend this annual convention ... field and network with their colleagues. As in years past, HydroWorx is proud ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... February 12, 2016 , ... The ThedaCare ... San Francisco General Hospital on April 5-7. The series is a multi-day, multi-workshop ... habits. The workshops cover a broad range of topics, including coaching skills, the ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... NC (PRWEB) , ... February 12, 2016 , ... AssureVest ... surrounding areas, is initiating a charity drive that will raise funds earmarked to purchase ... John C. Tayloe Elementary School. , “My school is in a low-income area and ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... February 12, 2016 , ... Young Asset ... celebrates the beginning of the latest charity campaign in their community enrichment program. ... Donations to this worthy cause are currently being accepted at: http://artexpressioninc.org/ . ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/12/2016)... LOUISVILLE, Ky. , Feb. 12, 2016 ... it has completed a $47.1 million Series ... investors Cormorant Asset Management, Hillhouse Capital Group ... investors Morningside Venture Investments, AJU IB Investment, ... will be used to further advance clinical ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... , Feb. 11, 2016 Stem cells are ... characterized by self-renewal and the capacity to differentiate into ... new discovery, as the first mouse embryonic stem cells ... not until 1995 that the first culturing of embryonic ... cells were not produced until 2006 As a result ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... , Feb. 11, 2016  Governor Andrew M. Cuomo ... create 1,400 jobs throughout Western New York ... with the SUNY Polytechnic Institute, includes a major expansion ... in Buffalo , as well as ... facility in Dunkirk . The combined ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: