Why Transcriptome Project?

Plants have been and continue to be a source of medicinal compounds. Of the top 150 top-selling prescribed chemical entities (drugs), circa 23% are compounds derived from plants (Grifo et al., 1997). Of these, one hundred twenty plant-derived pure compounds in clinical use worldwide are derived from about 100 species of plants (Farnsworth et al., 1985). The diversity of plant species and biochemistry suggests that many more are potentially available.

Yet, the current understanding of the formation of plant-derived medicinal compounds at the enzyme, gene and regulatory levels is very incomplete. Not a single complex plant medicinal pathway has yet to be completely elucidated at both the enzyme and the regulatory level. Thus, an improved understanding of the complete formation, storage and regulation of plant-derived medicinal compounds at enzyme and gene levels will enable development of alternate sources of known pharmaceuticals and of novel drugs.

This website was constructed as an effort to present the taxonomic aspects of the project through the dissemination of images of the plants being investigated in this Transcriptome Project. Additionally, it serves to link to our various progresses, and to the evolving versions of transcriptome data analysis that we are generating.

Thus, more specifically, this website serves as a link between the transcriptome data and the plant species being investigated through the voucher herbarium specimens in deposit at the John G. Searle Herbarium of the Field Museum, Chicago. These specimens serve as evidence of the organisms being investigated, while also enriching the scientific contents of the Field Museum's collection holding, both botanically and biochemically. The living collections of these plants, maintained in the greenhouse of the University of Illinois Pharmacognosy Field Station in Downer's Grove, IL, and at the Dorothy Bradley Atkins Medicinal Plants Garden at the College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois at Chicago, similarly serve as evidence of the plants being investigated, while also serving as a continuing source of raw materials for future studies.

For further information, please contact Dr. D. D. Soejarto, Program for Collaborative Research in the Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois at Chicago, 833 S. Wood St., Chicago, IL 60612. Email: dds@uic.edu.

This website was designed and executed by Rohan Deshpande, Department of Computer Science, University of Illinois at Chicago, 851 S. Morgan, Chicago, IL 60607. Email: rondesh@gmail.com.

References cited: Farnsworth, N. R., Akerele, O., Bingel, A. S., Soejarto, D. D., and Guo, Z. (1985). Medicinal plants in therapy. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 63:965-981. [This paper communicates the result of a survey on plant-derived compounds as a source of drugs, to determine the existence of a correlation between actual clinical use of the drugs, and traditional uses of plants containing them, through mail surveys, review of the pharmacopoeia and experimental literature data.]

Grifo et al. 1997. The origins of prescription drugs. In: Biodiversity and Human Health, Grifo and Rosenthal (Eds.), pp. 131-163