Nature-Inspired Medicine

What can the pharmaceutical world learn from traditional medicine, now drug development is stalling?

Organisator Studium Generale

do 23 januari 2020 20:00

Locatie Impulse, gebouwnummer 115
Zaal/kamer Speakers corner

Nature-Inspired Medicine

How can the pharmaceutical world be renovated now drug development is stalling? It becomes increasingly difficult for big pharma to develop new compounds, as medicines are available for most common diseases and the costs of developing a novel drug are very high. At the same time, about 80 per cent of the world population is dependent on traditional medicine for their primary healthcare. Looking at the history of western drug development, it is obvious that traditional medicines are still an almost untouched area for novel drug development. How can the different new “omics” technologies (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics) help to explore the biological mechanisms of traditional medicines? Find out what this could mean for the future of medicine.

About Rob Verpoorte

Rob Verpoorte is emeritus professor in the field of plant cell biotechnology and pharmacognosy at The Institute of Biology Leiden (IBL) of Leiden University. In addition, he is affiliated to the Natural Products Lab (NPL) of Leiden University. This laboratory is dedicated to natural products research, traditional medicine, ethnobotany and phytochemistry.

Rob Verpoorte
Rob Verpoorte

As a pharmacist, Rob Verpoorte has been involved in studies of novel biologically active natural products. He studied, among others, various medicinal plants for the presence of alkaloids related to strychnine. As such plants are rare, and thus pose a problem for the supply of material for a novel drug, he also became involved in plant cell biotechnology to produce such compounds in cell culture in bioreactors. That included in-depth studies on the biosynthesis to identify the biosynthetic genes that were used to produce transgenic plant cell cultures with increased production of alkaloids. In recent years he was particularly interested in synergy, a phenomenon that might play an important role in the activity of traditional medicines.

About lecture series Plant-People Relationships

Humankind is seriously jeopardizing the natural world. This increasingly affects every way in which we relate to nature, as biological and cultural diversity are linked and interdependent. So what else is being lost alongside biodiversity? Ethnobotany, which studies the relationships between plants and people, sheds light on these matters by bringing together natural sciences, humanities and social sciences. And what can ethnobotany teach us about biocultural diversity conservation?