Aug 21, 2007

2007 Week 34: Herbal Studies - Biotech techniques


Applications of biotechnology techniques to the study of medicinal plants
Biotechnology Unit, University of Buea, Box 63, Buea, SW Province, Cameroon.

Medicinal plants are widely used world wide to address a variety of health problems. The major obstacles faced in the study of medicinal plants include inaccurate identification and speciation, low yield of bioactive metabolites prepared by chemical methods, variability of traditional protocols etc. In the present article we review a range of biotechnological methods that can be employed to facilitate medicinal plant studies. DNA-based techniques like PCR, RFLP, AFLP, RAPD and sequencing can be employed to resolve ambiguities in plant identification and speciation. In vitro plant organ and tissue culture methods can be employed to produce bioactive metabolites (alkaloids, flavonoids, terpenoids etc) under defined conditions. Recombinant DNA techniques can be used to manipulate metabolic pathways and produce protein pharmaceuticals such as antibodies, and protein hormones. The new disciplines of Bioinformatics and Genomics can find application in drug discovery from plant-based products. We conclude that biotechnological procedures can enhance and advance the studies of medicinal plants.
PMID: 17703560

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