CSIR-CIMAP to develop phytomolecules for medicinal use

Lucknow, Feb 28 (IANS): The CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), which is known for retrieving natural compounds from aromatic and medicinal plants, will soon set up a unit for the development of a synthetic biology platform for high-value phytomolecules.

Synthetic biology is a science where we change living things on purpose to make them more useful by giving them new abilities through genetic engineering.

CIMAP director Prabodh Kumar Trivedi said: “The unit will develop phytomolecules, which will be basically molecules produced by plants to protect themselves from moulds, yeasts, bacteria and other harmful organisms. The use of plants and their extracts in human and veterinary medicine has been a well-established fact for ages hence this unit holds great relevance for the pharma industry and others.”

Trivedi said that the institute has set a goal to work towards the development of a synthetic biology platform, speed up research on plant genome editing, set up standards for herbal products and establish sustainable aroma clusters to double farmer’s income this year.

The scientific institute took the synthetic plant biology route as research in the field of aromatic and medicinal plants and synthetic biology.

The plant-specialised metabolites (natural products that are not mandated for the vegetative growth of the host plants) are regularly used for medicinal purposes. Plant synthetic biology can enhance the production of bioactive compounds, especially when the native host plants are difficult to cultivate, or the concentration of bioactive compounds are too low for purification.

“Synthetic biology can change the genetic material in viruses, bacteria, yeasts, plants, or animals to give them useful new characteristics. For example, integrating spider DNA makes a silkworm produce super strong, ultra-lightweight silk. The institute has set up a goal to establish the development of a synthetic biology platform,” said the CIMAP director.

“We will also be focussing on accelerating research on plant genome-editing for improved traits in medicinal and aromatic plants,” he said.

“We are working on the development of sustainable aroma clusters to enhance the income of the farmers and entrepreneurship development. This will include using solar distillation units (to minimise carbon emission), zero waste (utilisation of de-oiled herb for vermicomposting, mushroom cultivation, cutlery making), Apiculture and the use of agri-drones for disease/nutrient management,” he said.



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Title: CSIR-CIMAP to develop phytomolecules for medicinal use

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