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Chimia (Aarau). 2012;66(5):320-3. doi: 10.2533/chimia.2012.320.

Plants as a source of therapeutic and health products.

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School of Pharmaceutical Sciences University of Geneva, University of Lausanne 30 Quai Ernest-Ansermet CH-1211 Geneva, Switzerland.


The research unit of Pharmacognosy is mostly working on the biological activity and safety of natural products, as well as herbal dietary supplements. One of the focuses relies on finding new cancer chemopreventive compounds by means of a battery of short-term in vitro bioassays developed to monitor inhibition of tumorigenesis at various stages. Neglected diseases are a major problem in developing countries. Therefore, the search for new or improved treatments is also needed and consists of another area of research of the unit. For both projects, in-depth mechanistic studies, as well as in vitro and in vivo absorption and metabolization experiments are performed. Problems related to undeclared, unauthorized or toxic botanicals in herbal dietary supplements are of growing importance as they generally have not gone through a rigorous drug testing process as for therapeutic phytochemicals. For this, a generic method was developed for the multi-targeted screening of biomarkers which aims at characterizing plant species in these supplements.

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