In the frame of horizon 2020, the societal challenge number 1: “Health demographic and wellbeing” is defined. Europe is experiencing steady aging of its workforce with consequent heavier weight put on the healthcare system. Some strategies being considered to face this challenge are the development of more personalized medicine and the development of green and sustainable solutions. The main goal of this strategy is to help the elderly to remain active and independent.
The scientific knowledge that will be gathered during the HyperSpEED project will address these points by filling big gaps that are currently limiting the pharmaceutical industry. We will achieve this by addressing the biodiversity of the genus Hypericum.
Saint John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum L.) is a popular medicinal plant used for centuries in traditional medicine that came to the attention of modern plant biology because of its multiple applications in the treatment of depression, different types of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. We are interested in understanding the biosynthetic processes that lead to the formation of bioactive compounds that are highly valuable for the pharma industry and that could provide relevant benefits for the aging population.
The genus Hypericum includes more than 460 species that are adapted to very different environments around the planet. Despite this rich diversity, the species that caught the majority of the scientific interest in previous studies is H. perforatum.
With the HyperSpEED project (Hypericum multi-Species Exploration of Extracts Diversity), we intend to explore the interspecific diversity of this genus to identify new accessions valuable for potential uses in medical applications. This will be achieved by using a combination of transcriptomics, metabolomics, and genomics. These methods will produce novel information on gene expression patterns associated with the synthesis of molecules of high pharmaceutical value. Furthermore, we will continue our research on the species H. perforatum for which several genes involved in the biosynthesis of hypericin, hyperforin, and other pharmaceutically important compounds, will be characterized.
This research is embedded in the broader concept of “multitasking plants for a sustainable future” pursued by the Metabolic Diversity Group. The project is embedded in a consortium entirely based in Sachsen-Anhalt and connected to a network of partners in, Saskatoon (Canada), Oslo (Norway), Braunschweig and Hannover.
The scientific results produced in the frame of HyperSpEED will be made available for future research following the principle of data reusability.