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Abstract Detail


Rønsted, Nina [1], Maldonado, Carla [2], Barnes, Christopher J [1], Alban, Joaquina [3], Chilquillo, Eder [4], Simoes, André [4], Taylor, Charlotte [5], Allasi Canales , Nataly Olivia [6], Persson, Claes [7], Zizka, Alex [8], Dahlberg, Rasmus [9], Nesbitt, Mark [10], Theisen, Michael [11], Cornett, Claus [12], Holmfred, Else Marie [12], Hansen, Steen Honoré [12], Walker, Kim [10], Antonelli, Alexandre [8].

The quest for Cinchona bark for the treatment of malaria.

Plants have provided humankind with thousands of medically active compounds. Quinine and related alkaloids from the bark of South American Cinchona trees constituted the only medicine against Malaria for centuries, probably saving more human lives than any other remedy in history. Drug exploration often departs from traditional knowledge and trial-and-error, ignoring current phylogenetic knowledge, modern biochemical techniques, and the fact that many species are narrowly distributed in poorly accessible regions. Despite these potential shortcomings, here we show that Native Americans were able to locate and utilise the species and populations with highest alkaloid contents. Our results confirm that Bolivian trees belonging to Cinchona calisaya, shown to European plant-hunters in the 17th Century by a local Quechua Indian, contain the highest contents of Malaria-active compounds among the 120 candidate species in tribe Cinchoneae. Alkaloid profiles vary significantly between species and are correlated with phylogeny and altitude suggesting the alkaloids might have evolved as defence compounds in response to environmental constraints. We detected numerous unidentified alkaloids either as minor peaks or producing significantly different chemical profiles, which may be an unexplored source of new antimalarial leads. These results suggest that a systematic integration of traditional knowledge with evolutionary and ecological diversity could accelerate lead discovery. Highlighting the contribution of traditional knowledge to unmet medical needs of today is critical in a time where traditional knowledge is disappearing faster than biodiversity.

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Related Links:

1 - University of Copenhagen, Natural History Museum of Denmark, Øster Farimagsgade 5, Copenhagen, Denmark
2 - Herbario Nacional De Bolivia, Universidad Mayor De San Andres, Cota Cota, Calle 27, La Paz, Bolivia
3 - Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Museo de Historia Natural, Lima, Peru
4 - Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Departamento de Biologia Vegetal, Sao Paulo, Brazil
5 - University of Missouri-St. Louis, Missouri Botanical Garden, St Louis, MS, USA
6 - University of Copenhagen, Natural History Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark
7 - Botanical Institute Got. Univ, Box 461, Se 405 30, Goteborg, S-104 58, Sweden
8 - University of Gothenburg, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Gothenburg, Sweden
9 - Royal Danish Defence College, Copenhagen, Denmark
10 - Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Richmond, UK
11 - University of Copenhagen, Centre for Medical Parasitology, Copenhagen, Denmark
12 - University of Copenhagen, Department of Pharmacy, Copenhagen, Denmark

Defence compounds
Natural Products

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 41, Ethnobotany
Location: 109/Mayo Civic Center
Date: Wednesday, July 25th, 2018
Time: 10:30 AM
Number: 41002
Abstract ID:166
Candidate for Awards:None

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