Vincenzo De Luca’s work has appeared many times in many journals.
But it was the podcast interview – his very first – on Science magazine’s website that he says has the potential to generate a lot of buzz.
“I think one of the things that this type of a podcast in such a journal means is that there is a very wide audience that gets to hear about your published article and your research,” he says.
“It may create new opportunities for collaboration with people you normally wouldn’t interact with. I got a whole bunch of requests for re-prints, people who agree with some of the points of view that I put forward in the article, and people who are saying that we hope this is going to help the developing world.”
De Luca, who is a Canada Research Chair in Plant Biology, co-authored an article published in the June 29 issue of Science, titled “Mining the Biodiversity of Plants: A Revolution in the Making.”
In it, he and his colleagues argue that the availability of increasingly inexpensive gene-sequencing equipment allows researchers to expand their search for the production of medicines from plants.
Throughout most of human history, all drugs were natural. De Luca says that, until recently, the trend has been for single-ingredient drugs to be produced from metabolites – or small molecules – found in plants.
But in recent years, synthetic molecules have replaced natural extracts, particularly in developed countries.
Dr. De Luca and his colleagues say that only a small fraction of plant metabolism – immense in its diversity – has been explored for the production of new medicines and other products.
“The trend today really involves the identification of biosynthetic pathways and trying to harvest all the genes involved in a relevant pathway, and then transferring the pathway from the plant of origin to a host that may be an industrial bacterial strain, a yeast strain, or maybe even another plant,” he told Science interviewer Edward Hurme during the podcast.
Vincent De Luca’s podcast can be found at: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/336/6089/1658/suppl/DC1