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Multidisciplinary study of Natural Products


Our experience includes the evaluation of hundreds of plant extracts for their larvicidal, antioxidant, antitrypanosomal, anti-Mycobacterium tuberculosis, antifungal, cytotoxic and antileishmania activities. Bioassay-guided fractionation studies have been performed on the most active samples, leading to the isolation and characterization of several compounds.

For example, we have evaluated the antituberculosis activity of more than one thousand plant extracts. One of the most active plants, Clavija procera, was subjected to bioassay-guided isolation studies resulting in the isolation of aegicerin as the active principle. This compound showed good activity against multidrug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

  Evaluation of anti-Mycobacterium tuberculosis activity at the P3 biosafety level laboratory (Infectious Diseases Laboratory, Dr. Robert H. Gilman)  

Antiparasitic activity of Medicinal plants

Thanks to a grant from the Institute of Research for Development (IRD, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement), we were able to evaluate the antimalarial and antileishmanial activities of more than 200 hundred plants used in traditional medicine. The most active plants and isolated active principles are currently being evaluated in animal models.

Macrophages infected with Leishmania amazonensis  

  13C-NMR of Plumericin isolated from Himatanthus sucuba  
Development of Phytomedicines
After evaluating more tan 100 plant extracts against several bacteria and fungi, we have identified a plant extract with very good antifungal activity in vitro and in vivo (guinea pigs with a fungal infection). Based on these results, we have obtained funds from FINCyT that will be used for research and development of phytomedicines for the treatment of superficial micosis and cutaneous leishmaniasis. This project is being carried out in collaboration with a Peruvian pharmaceutical company (HERSIL S.A.).
Evaluation of antifungal activity in vitro and in vivo (Laboratory of Mycology, Dr. Beatriz Bustamante)
Research and Development of Essential oils from medicinal plants
Another purpose of the NPRU is the study of essential oils from plants for the development of dental care products, veterinary products and for their use in aromatherapy. Our lab has distillators of great capacity, fractional distillators for the obtention of refined oils, as well as a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry equipment for the chemical analysis and quality control of essential oils.

Steam Distillator         

Fractional Distillation Column    Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
Immunomodulatory activity of medicinal plants
Thanks to funds obtained from PROCYT-CONCYTEC, we were able to characterize the antiinflammatory/immunomodulatory activity of Uncaria tomentosa (“cat´s claw”). We have determine and isolated the active principles responsible for the inhibition of TNF-alpha secretion, which could be of importance for the development of new drugs or phytomedicines for several inflammatory diseases.
Evaluation of immunomodulatory activity of natural products with the QUANSYS Bioimager
University-Industry Collaborations
We carry out research and development of natural products with the aim of contributing to the economic development of our country. Our Research Unit, in association with several Peruvian companies and the support of FINCyT (Program for Science and Technology) and Innóvate-Perú-FIDECOM (Fund for Innovation, Development and Competitiviness), are carrying out the following I&D projects:
  • Medicinal plants as alternatives for the use of antibiotic growth promoters in poultry industry. Grant: Fondo para la Innovación, la Ciencia y la Tecnología (FINCyT) 2008-2010.
  • Development of value-added products from Sphagnum (“white moss”) from the communities of the Junín region. Grant: FINCyT-PITEI 2010.
  • Characterization of the genetic diversity and the sexual pheromones of Copitarsia corruda for the strengthening of the integrated management of asparagus cultures. Grant: FIDECOM-PIPEA 2010. Innóvate Perú.
  • Development and scientific validation of Natural Ingredients based on medicinal/alimentary plants from Peruvian Biodiversity for the cosmetic industry. Grant: FIDECOM-PIPEI 2010. Innóvate Perú.
  • Enzymatic Protein hydrolyzates from Sacha inchi “cake” (Plukenetia volubilis and Plukenetia huayllabambana) for the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry. Grant: FIDECOM-PIPEI 2010. Innóvate Perú.
Research and Development of Veterinary products
One of our ongoing projects is related to the search for natural alternatives for antibiotic growth promoters used in chicken diets. This project won recently the L´Oréal-UNESCO-CONCYTEC National Award “For Women in Science” (awarded to Dr. Rosario Rojas) and is also funded by FINCyT (PI: Dr. Carlos Shiva). We are working in collaboration with the IRD and the Peruvian poultry company San Fernando S.A.; and we believe that the results of this project will have positive impacts in poultry industry.