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Grant Aids Research on St. John’s Wort and Related Species in Pa

August 7, 2007

SELINSGROVE, (Pa.) -- Geneive Henry, assistant professor of chemistry at Susquehanna University, is undertaking research on five uncharacterized species of Hypericum, which will contribute to the body of research leading to the development of effective drugs for the treatment of cancer and infectious diseases. Henry recently received a $34,980 grant from Research Corp. to further her research on the Hypericum genus, which has 19 species, including perforatum (St. John's wort), growing in Pennsylvania. The award letter notes that “predominantly undergraduate colleges and universities play a leading role in the development of future scientists.” Henry's work is no exception.

Like all science faculty at Susquehanna, Henry routinely collaborates with students on her research. The goal of her research is to identify new natural products with in vitro anticancer, antibacterial and antioxidant activities. So far, Henry and her student researchers have isolated several members of a unique class of natural products called PPAPs (polycyclic prenylated acylphloroglucinols), and showed that some of these compounds have the ability to inhibit the growth of human gastric, breast, colon, lung, and central nervous system tumor cells in vitro.

Henry is currently studying PPAPs' effect on pathogenic bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus. In the future, Henry and her students will attempt to modify the structures of these active compounds to improve on their biological activity.

Of the 19 species of Hypericum growing in Pennsylvania, only two have been characterized independent of Henry's research. She ultimately hopes to study all 17 uncharacterized species growing in the state.

Contact: Victoria Kidd


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