Hairy treatments for winter ills

Australian scientists are investigating new ways to mass-produce the active ingredients found in the herbal medicines – Echinacea, Ginseng and Gynostemma.

Extracts from these plants are commonly used to stimulate the immune system, alleviate cold and flu symptoms and boost energy levels.

“During winter many people will take herbal medicines to fight off colds and flu. There is an increasing demand for traditional sources of some popular medicinal herbs. Some of these plants grow very slowly and demand is greater than supply,” says Dr Philip Franks, leader of the Food Science Australia’s biotechnology research.

Food Science Australia’s scientists and collaborators in the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Bioproducts are researching hairy root cultures as a source of large quantities of the plant extracts that are otherwise expensive or difficult to source.

Hairy roots are named after the shape of the very fine roots that can be formed by plants that are infected by certain bacteria. Scientists are investigating ways to use this natural process to produce cheaper ingredients for herbal medicines.

Scientists are already able to produce valuable products from plant cells. Hairy root cultures are believed to offer particular advantages.

To be commercially viable the tissue culture must grow rapidly and in large quantities. Scientists aim to grow the hairy roots in a 10,000-litre fermentation tank.

“The challenges faced by our researchers are to encourage rapid growth of the plant material and to stimulate them to produce the active component.”

Food Science Australia’s scientists and collaborators in the CRC for Bioproducts are leaders in cell culture technology and are exploring applications in food and medicinal applications.

Food Science Australia is the largest Australian food research organisation and a joint venture of CSIRO and the Australian Food Industry Science Centre (Afisc).

This research has been on display at Bio 2002, the world’s largest conference and exhibition of biotechnology.

Media Contact

Rosie Schmedding EurekAlert

All latest news from the category: Health and Medicine

This subject area encompasses research and studies in the field of human medicine.

Among the wide-ranging list of topics covered here are anesthesiology, anatomy, surgery, human genetics, hygiene and environmental medicine, internal medicine, neurology, pharmacology, physiology, urology and dental medicine.

Back to home

Comments (0)

Write a comment

Newest articles

Enhancing the workhorse

Artificial intelligence, hardware innovations boost confocal microscope’s performance. Since artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky patented the principle of confocal microscopy in 1957, it has become the workhorse standard in life…

In the quantum realm, not even time flows as you might expect

New study shows the boundary between time moving forward and backward may blur in quantum mechanics. A team of physicists at the Universities of Bristol, Vienna, the Balearic Islands and…

Hubble Spots a Swift Stellar Jet in Running Man Nebula

A jet from a newly formed star flares into the shining depths of reflection nebula NGC 1977 in this Hubble image. The jet (the orange object at the bottom center…

Partners & Sponsors