US scientists genetically engineering tulsi

Jan 18 2014, 18:56 IST
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A team of scientists at a US university are genetically engineering tulsi or basil to enhance its pharmaceutical value. Reuters A team of scientists at a US university are genetically engineering tulsi or basil to enhance its pharmaceutical value. Reuters
SummaryThe next phase in the research project would be to test the compound as an effective cancer treatment.

Led by an Indian-American, a team of scientists at a US university are genetically engineering tulsi or basil to enhance its pharmaceutical value, the institute said.

In his lab at the Owensboro facility, Chandrakanth Emani, Assistant Professor of Plant Molecular Biology at the Western Kentucky University and his students are genetically engineering the basil to produce more eugenol, a compound in basil that "has a very great pharmaceutical value because it's shown to control breast cancer," the University said in a statement.

"When you grind these basil leaves there is a compound called eugenol that comes out...Eugenol, when they put it on a plate where there are tumor cells, it stopped growth of the tumour cells. That was a proof of concept experiment which was done a long time back," Emani claimed.

"If I make it make higher and higher amounts of eugenol, that plant, basil plant, will be a storehouse of that anti-cancerous compound," he said.

The next phase in the research project would be to test the compound as an effective cancer treatment.

Basil, he said, is a medicinal plant which has a lot of compounds called metabolites, meaning the leaves of a basic basil plant, like any other plant, make a lot of stuff.

"If you look at the east, they've been using the plant not exactly as a medication but a supplement for a lot of treatments, he said.

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