Creating New Tools for Natural Products Drug Discovery

In the early 1970s, scientist Tu Youyou, leading a secret research group in China called Project 523, discovered artemisinin, now the world’s most effective treatment for malaria. Dr. Tu and her team discovered this molecule from sweet annie (Artemisia annua), a plant used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat fevers.  To facilitate future discoveries like these, the Center for High Content of Functional Annotation of Natural Products (HiFAN) seeks to develop new tools that will help researchers to identify which molecules produced by a given plant (botanical) may be effective against disease.  The Cech group leads one of the projects for this center, heading up efforts to improve the interpretation of large datasets acquired using mass spectrometry.  Other project leads are Dr. Roger Linington at Simon Fraser University and Dr. John MacMillan at the University of California Santa Cruz.  To hear more about this project in the Cech lab, check out this article.

Student in lab

Isaiah Odoyo, a research scientist in the Cech Laboratory, works to identify molecules in a complex extract being studied for its potential to treat infections.

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