UK researchers are to collaborate with a team from the US on a project to increase the availability of herbal extracts used in medicines and natural treatments.
The researchers will use modern molecular techniques to increase yields in a range of herbal extract products used for medicinal purposes, and are also hoping to establish new commercial opportunities for plant chemicals.
The joint research programme will be carried out in York, England by the CNAP research group from the Department of Biology at the University of York and the Oklahoma-based Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. Work is expected to start this summer.
The teams will work on developing new technologies to extract biologically active chemicals from plants. The researchers believe that their results will have a particular resonance for health problems in developing countries, where diseases such as malaria might be a target for the Noble/CNAP team's study.
Commenting on the project Professor Dianna Bowles, director of CNAP said: "I am delighted by this new agreement between our two institutes. We both have world-class expertise in the bioscience which underpins novel health product discovery. By combining our strengths and working together on new projects, we can move forward much more rapidly, both in research and in development of products to market here and in the United States."
CNAP commercial director Dr Graham Howe added that the organisation is hoping the research will open up commercial opportunities for the university in key target markets.
Professor Richard Dixon, Noble Foundation Plant Biology division director and head of the new Noble Laboratory in CNAP, agreed: "The creation of this new laboratory represents a wonderful opportunity to develop new technologies based on the incredible diversity of biologically active chemicals found in plants for the prevention and treatment of human diseases."
He added that the team would try to set up in-house programmes at both institutes through new collaborations and new commercial opportunities.
The Noble Laboratory will be co-directed by Dr Richard Dixon, Noble Foundation Plant Biology Division Director, and Dr Pierre Broun, Professor of Metabolic Engineering at CNAP. It will initially provide funding for two post-doctoral researchers, a technician and equipment and consumables for five years.