Cell & Molecular Biology Program Event
Mr. Vivekanand Sharma
Microbiology & Molecular Genetics
University of Vermont
An in silico approach to identifying potential phyto-therapies
Tuesday March 19th, 2013
The diversity in genetic and biochemical components across the tree of life has been harnessed to identify life-sustaining food and medicinal sources. Much focus has been invested in contemporary science to analyze the molecular and genetic aspects of plants, resulting in vast amounts of data that are captured within texts and databases. With increasing awareness about the importance of biodiversity, informatics approaches can be developed that aim at augmenting traditional bioinformatics techniques by encompassing a wider spectrum of data types and organisms for subsequent analysis – e.g., for the identification of plant-based therapies (“phyto-therapies”). However, the scattered nature of ethnobotanical, biomedical and clinical data related to potentially therapeutic plants has limited the translation of existing knowledge into tools for medicine. To this end, mostly manual bioscreening strategies for identifying and studying medicinal plants have not been sufficient to keep pace with current pharmaceutical needs. Our research, as will be presented in this presentation, aims to develop bioinformatic approaches that can provide an essential toolkit for designing efficient, targeted and cost-efficient phyto-therapies.