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The discovery of novel diterpene skeleton - new biologically active compound from Premna serratifolia

A Novel Diterpene Skeleton: Identification of a highly aromatic, cytotoxic and antioxidant 5-methyl-10-demethyl-abietane-type diterpene from Premna serratifolia. Phytotherapy Research 29(1), 80-85.  Abstract
23 September 2014

If you are working on the assessment of medicinal plants for pharmacological activities, you would know the anxious  time  of waiting for the results and the hours of excitements on identifying a hit. You may also be working on the chemistry of natural products for months or years with anticipation that you will one day hit a novel compound. The biggest bonus is of course when you come to identify a novel compound that displays a significant biological activity. Perhaps with a little bit of lack and hard work, one could also identify a novel biologically active compound that seems to defy our knowledge of the basic biosynthesis pathway of secondary metabolites in plants.

Picture of Dr Solomon Habtemariam (left) and Dr George K Varghese (right), in Kerala, India.

Our collaborative research work with the Kerala group (led by Dr Varghese) has so far led to the identification of several pharmacologically active compounds. This include, potential antioxidant, antidiabetic, anti-obesity, cytoprotective and  urolithiasis compounds among others (Link - publications). As part of this work, we also evaluated the chemistry and pharmacology of several morphotypes of Premna serratifolia (picture above). From this famous Indian traditional medicinal plant, we have now identified a novel diterpene based on a totally new terpenoid skeleton.  While displaying  cytotoxicity to cancer cells as with many novel diterpenes that we have isolated from other Premna species, the new compound also showed potent antioxidant effect that is common with polyphenolic compounds such as flavonoids.

......Success like this doesn't come very often and while celebrating our achievement, our hunger for identifying  novel pharmacologically active compounds from our medicinal plants continues.....We specially thank the hard working group of our collaborators in Kerala (especially Dr Varghese) who made our research  journey memorable.....

Dr Solomon Habtemariam BSc, MSc, PhD, PGDipMS, FRSc, FRSM

Our search for unexplored medicinal plants ranges from Kerala's river banks below sea level..... the beautiful mountain ridges of 1000's of meters above sea level.

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Dr Habtemariam BSc, MSc, PhD........FRSM, FRSC. .... With a Principal Lecturer post at Greenwich, Dr Habtemariam is a leader of the BSc Pharmaceutical Science programme and researches on bioassay & natural products-based drug development. ....More



In addition to our fully equipped tissue culture facilities, we have  access to various state-of-the-art equipment including ICP-MS, LC-MS, MALDI-TOF-MS, FABS-MS, FTIR, Laser-Raman,  scanning  and transmission  electron microscopes, flow cytometer, NMR (270, 300 and 500MHz),  automated DNA sequencers, various HPLC systems,  capillary electrophersis ................










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