Oxford Science Café

August 2014

Larry Walker (University of Mississippi): Plants as Medicines: New Insights on Old Remedies

Medicinal plants have been staples in most human societies for all of recorded civilization. Plants and plant-derived preparations shaped the medical pharmacopeias of Indian, Chinese, Arabic, native Americans, and many other ancient cultures. In the 19th century, the framing of the modern discipline of experimental pharmacology was largely based on observations of the effects (often toxicity) of plant-derived alkaloids. Our constructs of the sympathetic nervous system, neuromuscular transmission, pain pathways and cardiac contractile mechanisms, among many others, were developed in this way. In the 20th century, though the face changed, most of our modern pharmaceuticals were natural products or natural product-derived. In the post-genome era, plant constituents are emerging as important tools for understanding complex cellular signaling pathways, and in a number of exciting developments, new therapeutics are being developed based on plant-derived products. Understanding these elegant and complex pathways and their modulation by natural products holds rich promise for the future.

August 19, 2014, Lusa Pastry Café, 6pm - 7pm.