Plants produce a great diversity of secondary metabolites, which are the source for new molecules with pharmacological activity. However, overexploitation of these resources can put the natural populations of the producing species at risk. This project combines a comparative genomic and metabolomic approach with a plant biotechnology approach with the objective of studying and reconstructing, in heterologous plant systems, metabolic pathways that allow efficient production of two families of terpenes, sesquiterpene lactones and phenolic diterpenes.
The compounds of interest are previously identified and isolated from the different plant species that produce them in limited amounts. The products presenting antitumoral and neuroprotective pharmacological activity are produced at semi-industrial scale using biotechnological platforms specifically developed in the project. Thanks to this system, active compounds of pharmacological interest are produced without putting the natural species at risk. The process also allows optimal production of active metabolites.
The members of the TERPMED project consortium are the University of Barcelona, Wageningen University (the Netherlands), Plant Research International at Wageningen (the Netherlands), the Institute of Biological Research «Sinisa Stankovic» in Belgrade (Serbia), the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece), Wisconsin University (USA), and the company consortium PRISNA B.V. (the Netherlands). The TERPMED consortium has been set up for a period of four years.