Developing new treatments for dementia from plants - The value of herbarium collections
Antonio Currais, PhD
Staff Scientist, CNB-S
Salk Institute for Biological Studies
Abstract: Plants hold enormous potential as sources of new therapies for dementia as well as other diseases of old age. Due to their sessile nature, plants are exposed to a variety of stresses that trigger physiological changes similar to those found in many human diseases. As such, they have evolved a rich array of chemical strategies to deal with those challenging conditions. We have been screening plant extracts from a variety of sources to identify novel neuroprotective chemicals using phenotypic assays. Although the largest collections of plants can be found in herbaria all over the world, their value to drug discovery has been significantly neglected. Our recent studies on the discovery of novel therapeutic compounds from herbaria will be discussed.