MU Scientists to Conduct Research for New Botanical Center

Dennis Lubahn Dennis Lubahn

Columbia, Mo -- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Botanical Research Centers Program recently awarded University of Missouri (MU) $7.6 million for the Center for Botanical Interaction Studies to begin research on plants that will, one day, prevent strokes, prostate cancer and neurodegeneration, and improve the resistance to infectious diseases.

The Center for Botanical Interaction Studies at the University of Missouri was one of only five universities in the United States selected to receive this award.

National Center for Soybean Biotechnology (NCSB) member, Dennis Lubahn, Professor of Biochemistry and Child Health in the School of Medicine and College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources, along with other MU Scientists will be conducting research on botanicals including soybeans.

Dr. Lubahn stated, "The center will support a team of 20 scientists doing work on human, animal and plant research to answer important questions about botanicals and to gain new insight on how they work".

The botanicals to be studied are Soy; Garlic; Sutherlandia (a common medicinal plant in Africa); Picrorhiza (an herb grown in the Himalayan mountains); and Elderberry (used as a remedy for its antioxidant qualities).

The research projects will be assisted by 5 Research Cores: Administrative Core; Botanicals/Plant Genome Core; Nutrition/Animal Core; Analytical Chemistry Core; and the Interactions Core: Mega-sequencing, Proteomics, Informatics and Nitrosylation.

Dr. Henry Nguyen, Director and Professor, and, Dr. Babu Valliyodan, Senior Research Scientist, from the National Center for Soybean Biotechnology, will be conducting research on Phytosterols and Isoflavones for their benefits to human health, along with, the overall goal of developing superior soybean varieties with better seed composition and yield and enhanced stress tolerance They will elucidate the genetic basis of variation in the level of bioactive compounds and provide different soybean lines and bioactive molecules/components for the animal feeding and cell culture studies.

"We are excited about the funding for our NIH Center for Botanical Interaction Studies at the University of Missouri because we can now test the effects of soy phytosterols and flavonoids in a variety of diseases. The NCSB will determine concentrations of the phytosterols and flavonoids in hundreds of soy cultivars. And then we will compare selected soy cultivars with the highest and lowest concentrations of these compounds in our animal models of human diseases, which include prostate cancer, immune resistance to infection, and ischemic disease or stroke. This will potentially allow better "more healthy" soy to be identified and then grown and consumed in the US." says Dr. Lubahn.

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Story from National Institues of Health (NIH)