About the project


Plant secondary metabolites are the source of a large number of biologically active compounds. Amongst these, terpenoids are undoubtedly the most numerous and chemically diverse, with over 25,000 compounds identified so far. This huge chemical diversity is however hardly exploited for the development of new drugs. This is due to several reasons such as poor availability of the source plant material, too low concentrations in the plant material and difficulties to obtain pure compounds. The TERPMED aims at providing solutions to overcome these difficulties for two classes of plant terpenoids, sesquiterpene lactones and phenolic diterpenes, which show promise as potential drugs against cancer or central nervous system diseases.

By using a combination of comparative metabolomics and genomics, significant advances will be achieved in the understanding of the biosynthetic pathways of sesquiterpene lactones and phenolic diterpenes. Focusing on specific functional groups such as g-butyrolactones and phenolics amongst the terpenes will allow the development of high-throughput analytical methodologies to detect, purify and characterize compounds bearing these groups. A comprehensive library of these compounds within a subset of plant biodiversity will be established. The compounds isolated will be tested for biological activity and the most active molecules will be selected. High throughput cDNA sequencing coupled to the comparative analysis of the metabolic profiles of targeted species will be achieved for the elucidation of the biosynthetic pathways of these compounds. Innovative production platforms using plant secretory organs such as the trichomes will be tested for the pilot production of the most promising compounds identified and the production of novel compounds by combinatorial biosynthesis.

Project Details

Topic KBBE-2008-3-1-01: Plant Natural products. Alternative sources for the synthesis of bioactive or industrial added value products.
Reference: FP7 KBBE 227448
Budget: 3.7 million euro (2.7 million euro EC contribution)
Participants: Seven partners from five European countries and one partner from the USA (click here to see full participant list)
Duration: June 2009 - May 2013 

Dr. Albert Ferrer
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Faculty of Pharmacy
University of Barcelona
Barcelona, Spain

Scientific Officer
Dr. Tomasz Calikowski
European Commission
DG Research & Innovation E2
European Commission
Brussels, Belgium


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