The long-term objectives of the Ethnomedicinal Plants Associate Program are to collect plants which have been used medicinally by people in Peru and elsewhere in South America for generations to treat a broad range of illnesses; these plants are thus already targeted or prescreened for testing using current biomedical techniques. Primary screens will be conducted to test for activity against a number of infective agents, including respiratory viruses, herpes viruses, pathogenic yeasts, and tuberculosis. When crude extracts prove positive in primary and also secondary screens, biodirected assays will allow active fractions to be identified to biodynamic compound. Isolation and characterization of these principles will provide phytochemicals which could be developed into new pharmaceuticals of substantial benefit to human health globally. In collaboration with the Ecology and Resource Management program an important contribution will be to identify and help grow those medicinal plants needed in research development and for commercial use. Successful cultivation should lead to a greater value being placed on the forests and surrounding areas, and if this worth proves sufficient, the probability that deforestation will be reduced and biodiversity retained is enhanced.
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