Navigation Links
Researchers build new model of bio-exploration

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
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign  

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:
Related Image:
Researchers build new model of bio-exploration
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... ... recently awarded their highest five-star rating to Best Buy Eyeglasses, an ... United States and Canada wear eyeglasses. Once considered to be a purely functional part ... fashion statement. Even celebrities use glasses as a way of creating an iconic image—like ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... Battle Creek, Michigan (PRWEB) , ... June 26, 2016 , ... ... abuse, joined as sponsor of the 2016 Cereal Festival and World’s Longest Breakfast Table ... held in honor of the city’s history as home to some of the world’s ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... 2016 , ... PawPaws brand pet supplements owned by Whole Health ... the health of felines. The formula is all-natural and is made from Chinese herbs ... Cat Kidney Support Supplement Soft Chews are Astragalus Root Extract and Rehmannia ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... , ... June 26, 2016 , ... ... once they have been diagnosed with endometriosis. These women need a treatment plan ... require a comprehensive approach that can help for preservation of fertility and ultimately ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... 25, 2016 , ... Austin residents seeking Mohs surgery services, can now turn ... to Dr. Russell Peckham for medical and surgical dermatology. , Dr. Dorsey brings specialization ... selective fellowship in Mohs Micrographic Surgery completed by Dr. Dorsey was under the direction ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Research ... Devices Global Market - Forecast to 2022" report to ... the treatment method for the patients with kidney failure, it ... excess fluid from the patient,s blood and thus the treatment ... potassium and chloride in balance. Increasing number ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016  In a startling report released today, ... residents by lacking a comprehensive, proven plan to eliminate prescription opioid ... ranking of how states are tackling the worst drug crisis in ... states – Kentucky , New Mexico ... . Of the 28 failing states, three – ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 ... CAPR ), a biotechnology company focused on the ... announced that patient enrollment in its ongoing randomized ... has exceeded 50% of its 24-patient target. Capricor ... the third quarter of 2016, and to report ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: