Phytomedicine is well-suited to being studied using the next generation DNA sequencing technologies (NGS) that have revolutionised molecular biology over the past 5 years. This is true both from the angle of lead discovery/optimisation, and also target discovery/mode of action.
Starting with the search for lead candidates, bioactive molecules from plants are effectively proteins/metabolites, and, given a reference sequence, can be traced back to their genomic origins. Significantly, phytomedicinal traits can be selected for like any other plant phenotype. There are already phytomedicinal plants such as Cannabis with sequenced genomes that are being investigated in this way, and there are tens if not hundreds of species whose genomes would be similarly useful.
The study of phytopharmacology is similar in many respects to that of 'standard' pharmacology, and is tractable via the same genomic techniques. A notable exception to this concerns the synergistic interactions that can be pronounced in plant extracts, meaning that a single isolated ingredient will not always reproduce efficacy of the plant extract. Although the biological explanation of synergistic effects is far from clear, unbiased whole genome assays typified by NGS provide a promising approach to their study.
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