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Pakistan-US Science and Technology Cooperation Program                                                            
Phase 4 (2009 Deadline)

Bioactive Genes and Peptides/Proteins from Medicinal Plants

Leslie M. Hicks, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Amer Jamil, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad
Pakistani Funding (HEC): $117,565
US Funding (Department of State): $317,500
Project Dates: November 15, 2010 - November 14, 2013 (Completed)

DDPSC-UAF LTQ Orbitrap Velos

The LTQ Orbitrap Velos, the world's fastest and most sensitive hybrid ion trap-Orbitrap mass spectrometer, is utilized to routinely deliver ultra-high resolution and accurate mass data for peptide and protein identification and characterization (photo courtesy of Dr. Hicks).

Project Overview
Although plants have been used as a source of medicine since ancient times, only a very small percentage of plants have been studied to date. This project focuses on investigating unexplored medicinal plants of Pakistan to isolate bioactive peptides and proteins with antimicrobial, anticancer, and antiviral activities. Collaboration with US colleagues at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center will enhance the capacity of Pakistani researchers to carry out cutting-edge research aimed at discovering promising natural compounds. The long-term objective of the project is to deliver some bioactive compounds for commercialization after further characterization. Because the private companies that have been created in Pakistan’s growing herbal medicine industry generally have poorly developed research and development capacities and are thus unable to isolate and test new compounds themselves, the results of this project could also help in attracting corporate interest in commercializing new products. 
Quarterly Update
The project continues to focus on the separation (fractionation) of black cumin (N. sativa) extracts into simpler components and reproduced bioactivity seen with N. sativa extracts in the fractionation. The Hicks lab moved to UNC Chapel Hill in September 2013, with a new graduate student overlapping with the previous postdoctoral associate at the Danforth Center. The following species are growing in UNC’s Greenhouse Facility ( black cumin, dill, basil, castor, fennel, Indian mustard. A new collaboration was established with UNC’s Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery (CICBDD) ( in replicating assays using a high throughput format to quickly screen other plant extracts using the black cumin as positive control to assess broad antimicrobial activity. Mass spectrometric acquisition and data analysis parameters are being optimized to efficiently detect and characterize active components for further sequencing. A female graduate student from the Univ. of Agriculture, Faisalabad, will join the Hicks lab Oct-Jan 2013 as a visiting scientist and will work on various aspects of this project and receive training in analytical characterization.

DC-UAF Bioactive Genes Project Greenhouse
Plant species now growing in our 210 sq. ft of space in the UNC Greenhouse.

Progress Reports

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