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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Biomedical Applications of Poisonous Plant Research

Authors
item James, Lynn
item Panter, Kip
item Gaffield Jr, William
item Molyneux, Russell

Submitted to: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 5, 2004
Publication Date: May 1, 2004
Citation: James, L.F., Panter, K.E., Gaffield Jr, W.P., Molyneux, R.J. 2004. Biomedical applications of poisonous plant research. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Interpretive Summary: Livestock poisoning by plants is an economic problem throughout the world. Losses may be due to death, reproductive problems (e.g. birth defects, abortions, failure to conceive), decreased growth rates, and neurological and physical problems interfering with the normal performance of these animals. In the process of developing strategies to prevent poisoning in livestock the plant toxins are identified. Such toxins are inherently biologically active. Some of these toxins are now being used as models and/or tools to investigate certain human health problems and to develop procedures for their control or treatment. Toxins from Veratrum californicum (western false hellebore), some Lupinus species (lupines) and Astragalus and Oxytropis species (locoweeds) are now under investigation for the management of certain disease problems and their potential applications are discussed in detail.

Technical Abstract: Research designed to isolate and identify the bioactive compounds responsible for the toxicity of plants to livestock that graze them has been extremely successful. The knowledge gained has been used to design management techniques to prevent economic losses, predict potential outbreaks of poisoning, and treat affected animals. The availability of these compounds in pure form has now provided scientists with tools to develop animal models for human diseases, study modes of action at the molecular level, and apply such knowledge to the development of potential drug candidates for the treatment of a number of genetic and infectious conditions. These advances are illustrated by specific examples of biomedical applications of the toxins of Vertrum californicum (western false hellebore), Lupinus species (lupines), and Astragalus and Oxytropis species (locoweeds).

Last Modified: 10/22/2014
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