Carl Nathe

By

College: Agriculture, Food and Environment

UK Work Sheds New Light on Medicinal Benefits of Plants

Published: Dec 15, 2011

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 15, 2011) — Scientists at the University of Kentucky, together with colleagues at a number of other institutions around the country and the world, have developed new resources poised to unlock yet another door in the hidden garden of medicinally important compounds found in plants. 

 

The resources were developed by the Medicinal Plant Consortium (MPC) led by Joe Chappell, professor of plant biochemistry in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. They grew out of a $6 million initiative from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study how the genes of plants contribute to production of various chemical compounds, some of which are medicinally important.

 

"Our major goal in this project has been to capture the genetic blueprints of medicinal plants for the advancement of drug discovery and development," said Chappell, project coordinator for the MPC.

 

"Most people are familiar with the natural products we derive from plants," Chappell added.  "These include the delightful fragrances that go into perfumes, soaps, household cleaning products and more.  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."

 

The MPC project includes participants from 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, England, in addition to UK. The associated 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.  

 

Dean DellaPenna, professor of biochemistry at Michigan State and MPC co-project coordinator, said, "Thanks to the funding received for these projects, the talents and skills of experts from all of these institutions have been brought together with the goal of forging a new model in drug discovery."

 

Some well-known medicines have come from plants.  For instance, the foxglove plant gives us the cardiac muscle stimulant digoxin, and 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, represent cornucopias of compounds ripe for discovering and developing diverse medicinal applications.

 

"The current understanding of the molecules and genes involved in the formation of plant-derived medicinal compounds is very incomplete.  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 the biological processes," said Sarah O’Connor, professor of chemistry at MIT and now at the John Innes Centre, also an MPC co-project coordinator. 

 

During this two-year project funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), researchers from two consortia 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 composition of 14 plants known for their medicinal properties or compounds with biological activity.  These included plants such as foxglove, ginseng, and periwinkle.  Altogether, these efforts are now providing a rich toolbox for researchers to discover the means for how nature's chemical diversity is created, thus empowering efforts to uncover new drug candidates and increase the efficacy of existing ones.

 

The work of the MPC included obtaining materials for all the medicinal plants used in this study. The MPC then determined the plants' chemical profiles and obtained their genetic blueprints to study how genes control the various chemical compositions.  

 

"This work offers a valuable data resource for understanding the genes, enzymes and complex processes responsible for the biosynthesis of important plant-derived drugs," said Warren Jones, who manages this and other research grants in biotechnology at NIH's National Institute of General Medical Sciences, through which the ARRA funds were provided.  "The collaborative effort should greatly contribute to our ability to understand and exploit the rich biochemistry found in plants."  

 

More information about the MPC and the resources provided are available at the following websites:  http://medicinalplantgenomics.msu.edu; http://metnetdb.org/mpmr_public/.

 

The second consortium, the Medicinal Plants/Human Health Consortium (MP/HHC) led by Norman Lewis, Regents Professor and director of the Institute of Biological Chemistry at Washington State University, was funded under the same program at the NIH to apply similar technology to other medicinal plants. More information about the MP/HHC can be found at http://uic.edu/pharmacy/MedPlTranscriptome/.  

 

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Carl Nathe, (859) 257-3200; carl.nathe@uky.edu

 

 

 

11-12-15_periwinkle.jpg
November
 
 
 
 
 
 
1
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
College of Pharmacy Open House
Iron Pour
UK Women's Choir 20th Anniversary Concert
Adventure Hiking & Rappelling @ Red River Gorge
Pickin' Time Mountain Music and Harvest Day
Purposeful Retirement: Planning Your Next Stage of Life
Diwali Dhoom 2014
Sat
2
UK Percussion Ensemble
Day Hike
Curator Tour: Take My Word For It
Sun
3
Industry Career Week: Resumes and Cover Letters
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Morehead State
Mon
4
Industry Career Week: How to Impress Your Boss in 90 Days
Rock Star Professionalism Series
UK Lab Band
Tue
5
Industry Career Week: Networking and Job Search
Social Enterprise and Innovation / Certified Nonprofit Professional Program Informational Meeting
Circle of Love Name Distribution
Appalachian Forum with Dr. Fran Ansley
Dana Harper Gallery Reception
Wed
6
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Zona Sur
LNFS Presents: The Grand Budapest Hotel
UK Jazz Ensemble
Circle of Love Name Distribution
Abstract Workshop
Lauren Potter
Thu
7
LNFS Presents: V for Vendetta
Last Day to Withdraw or Reduce Course Load
Circle of Love Name Distribution
R.C. May Photography Lecture Series: Marvin Heiferman
Men's Soccer vs. Charlotte
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Georgia
Free Friday Evening Swing Dance
Fri
8
Kentucky Football vs. Georgia
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
The Power of Poetry
The Lexington Lowdown and Free Lindy Hop Workshop
Swing Dance Featuring Live music by"The Metrognomes Orchestra"
Sat
9
UK Combos Concert
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Missouri
Sun
10
Circle of Love Name Distribution
Mon
11
UK Sax Ensembles
Job Club - Interviewing Strategies
Undergraduate Research Information Session
Jose Abisambra Presentation on Current Alzheimer's Research
Women of the World: Judy Smith
Tue
12
Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: Reservoir Dogs
Refugee Life in America
#UKEDTALKS: International Opportunities for Education Majors
Leadership Assessment
Wed
13
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Iron Man 3
Chili and Pie Cook-Off Supper
#TrendingTopics: Vegetarians vs. Meat-Eaters
Campus Polar Plunge to benefit Special Olympics KY
LNFS Presents: La Demora
Thu
14
LNFS Presents: Pretty in Pink
LNFS Presents: Mean Girls
Fri
15
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Sat
16
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Florida
Greek Cinematography: Critical Approach and Discussion
"Storied Streets" Documentary Showing about Experiences of Homelessness
Sun
17
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
UK Rep Bands Concert
College of Agriculture, Food & Environment 2014 Celebration of Land-Grant Research
Amanda Rogers, "Black Flags, ISIS 'Swag' & Jihadi Rap: Marketing Militancy after the Arab Spring"
Stories of Homelessness: Panel Discussion
Mon
18
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
A Positive Approach to Caregiving Conference
Education Abroad Open House
CatWatch Party
Appalachian Forum and Film Screening of "Up the Ridge"
Tue
19
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
LNFS Presents: The Princess and the Frog
Pinterest Party
International Games Day
Global Design with Phil Duncan
Caregiver Support Group
OXFAM Social Issues Banquet
Wed
20
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
Much Ado About Nothing
LNFS Presents: I Travel Because I Have To, I Come Back Because I Love You
LNFS Presents: The Big Lebowski
International Education Week Keynote Speaker: Christie Vilsack, Senior Advisor for International Education at USAID
Tobacco-free Tailgate 5 Year Anniversary
Bollywood Night
Thu
21
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
Much Ado About Nothing
LNFS Presents: Water For Elephants
4th Annual Markesbery Symposium on Aging & Dementia
Freedom from Fear: On Black Childhood and Other Dangers
Bouldering @ Stone Fort
MEAT.
Fri
22
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
Much Ado About Nothing
Bouldering @ Stone Fort
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Sat
23
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
Much Ado About Nothing
Bouldering @ Stone Fort
UK Symphony Band and UK Concert Band
Sun
24
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
Free Thanksgiving Shuttle to Blue Grass Airport
Mon
25
Free Thanksgiving Shuttle to Blue Grass Airport
Job Club - What is your money habitude?
Multicultural Student Thanksgiving Dinner
Tue
26
Thanksgiving - Academic Holidays
Free Thanksgiving Shuttle to Blue Grass Airport
Wed
27
Thanksgiving - Academic Holidays
Thu
28
Thanksgiving - Academic Holidays
Fri
29
Thanksgiving - Academic Holidays
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Arkansas
Sat
30
 
Sun
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nov 26
Thanksgiving - Academic Holidays 11/26/2014 - 11/29/2014

Repeats every week until Sat Nov 29 2014 except Sat Sep 20 2014, Sat Oct 18 2014.
Sat, 11/29/2014

Sat, 11/29/2014

Mon, 12/01/2014

Tue, 12/02/2014

Reset Page