Starting from microscopy, pharmacognosy has developed into a hightech science during the last 40 years. Today, it plays an integral role in the field of Pharmaceutical Sciences through the discovery, identification, and evolution of bioactive compounds from natural sources. Studies of plants used in European, North American, African, and Asian traditional medicine are conducted with the goals of identifying bioactive constituents and discovering new lead compounds.
Main interests are in the field of plant constituents with anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, antioxidant, as well as antimicrobial activities, with a spezial emphasis on antimycobacterial and antibiotic resistance modulatory activity. The inhibition of leukotriene biosynthesis in human granulocytes by 5-LOX and inhibition of 12(S)-HETE formation by 12-LOX in human platelets as cellular tests, and inhibition of prostaglandin biosynthesis by COX-1 and COX-2 as enzymatic in vitro assays, are established in our Department for screening and testing of extracts and pure compounds with anti-inflammatory activity. In order to investigate antibiotic resistance modulatory effects a cellular model using Mycobacterium smegmatis which enables following accumulation and efflux of ethidium bromide as a substrate of many efflux pumps has been established. In the field of molecular biology, NFkB and COX-2 in vitro assay are used to examine the expression of genes involved in inflammtory responses. Other tests are concerned with the inhibition of iNOS. Intensive collaboratories have been established with the Medical University of Graz, and the German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, the UCL School of Pharmacy and the Birkbeck College, London, and the University of Ljubljana.
Isolation, Identification, and Structure Elucidation
International collaborations with researchers in various parts of Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America have provided access to sources of interesting new plat material with diverse and unexplored phytochemistry. Isolation of bioactive constituents is conducted through the use of chromatographic supports (LC, MPLC, HPLC), while means for NMR structural elucidation are provided through an in-house collaboration with the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry.
Biopharmaceutical and Pharmacokinetic Studies
The pharmacognosists of the University of Graz play a leading role in designing and conducting biopharmaceutical and pharmacokinetic studies on bioactive constituents of herbal medicinal products of Echinacea species.
Analysis and Quality Control
The safety of herbal medicinal products is an important concern in phytomedicine. Evaluation of cultivated medicinal plants, as well as support in the process of standardization and quality control, are offered by the Department. TLC, GC, GC-MS, HPLC and LC-MS are regularly used for analysis and quality control. Centres of interest are the development of monographs for the Euopean Pharmacopoeia Commission. We have expertise in European regulatory affairs for herbal medicinal products and develop quality control methods for Chinese herbs.