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Medicinal Plants and Aromatic Herbs– Genomics and biosynthetic pathways
Work on prospection and functional characterisation of terpene synthases in relation to metabolite channelling in selected aromatic plants continued at CIMAP, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Three different full-length terpene synthase genes (MPTPS3, MPTPS4 and MPTPS5) were expressed in bacteria for their functional characterisation. After enzyme assay and GC-MS analysis, the gene MPTPS3 was found to be converting geranyl diphosphate to viridiflorol. For the gene MPTPS4, no conversion was detected. Stage specific expression for limonene synthase and menthol dehydrogenase have been studied in Mentha arvensis and M. piperita.
Analysis and search for leads from research project reports supported by DBT through the Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Task Force.
The DBT has funded a project on analysis and search for leads from research project reports supported by DBT through the Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Task Force to Seth GS Medical College & KEM Hospital, Mumbai. This project developed a data base (electronic and printed).
From the list of all projects approved by the Task Force between September 2004 and January 2010, 41 completed projects were identified to be related to drug development. From these, 17 leads were identified based on pre-defined criteria including drug details including:
  • rationale behind selection of a particular plant
  • part of plant used, type of extract/s used
  • details of further fractionation/sub-fractionation and standardisation of the extracts/fractions)
  • importance of the area under research to India’s health needs
  • type of study (in vitro/in vivo/clinical/others) and type of model used (accuracy and novelty)
  • details of the study design (employment of appropriate controls)
  • investigations carried out/parameters used
  • possibility of extrapolation of experimental dose to human dose
  • completeness of results.
Eight projects were identified as promising leads that should be carried forward. These include:
  • Antiviral agents for Dengue Infection
  • product from Oxalis corniculata for Entamoeba histolytica
  • standardised extract (and protein) for urolithiasis from Tribulus terrestris and Achyranthes aspera
  • Anti-osteoporotic agents from Butea monosperma
  • bio-enhancer (Niaziridin from Moringa oleifera)
  • hypoglycemic peptide of Momordica charantia
  • anti-diabetic formulation from Annona squamosa and
  • anti-tubercular agents from Piper longum and P. nigrum.
Now, it is planned to organise a consultation / interactive meetings of the concerned investigators along with the experts in the specialised areas to identify the research gaps and develop a strategy for pursuing these research leads into their logical conclusion.