There is a growing consensus that strengthening the local production of essential medicines is a priority in developing countries. At least five thousand plant species are used medicinally in China. The traditional Chinese medicine Shan Dou Gen, used to treat jaundice, hepatitis, bladder tumours and melanoma, is derived from the root of the legume Sophora tonkinensis Gapne.
The project will focus on the isolation of the genes underpinning the biosynthetic pathway of active compounds (prenylated flavonoids such as sophoranone and soporadin) in this plant. Increasing the production of these compounds in root cultures will allow for scale up of production for therapeutic uses.