Published on Brock University (http://www.brocku.ca)
Research: biological sciences, plant genetics, secondary metabolites, plants as factories
Ask someone to describe what a pharmaceutical plant looks like and the description will probably include items like large stainless steel vats and complex counting and packaging equipment. If you ask Vincenzo De Luca, he’ll paint a very different picture.
De Luca is a Canada Research Chair in Plant Biotechnology. A central component of De Luca’s research focuses on how plants, the green and flowery variety, can be used as factories to produce life-saving medicines, new functional foods, valuable aromas, flavours and colorants. His research findings, including the identification of cancer-fighting compounds in the Madagascar periwinkle, have garnered significant industry interest, research funding and media attention.
De Luca’s research team is focused on explaining natural product biosynthesis in plants, including how plants generate cells specialized to make life-saving medicinal products. His team is also working to produce detailed information about the balance of genes that are responsible for creating a ‘cell factory’. The novel chemistries generated by this work also may be used to defend plants against different plant pathogens.
The Cairns Family Health and Bioscience Research Complex will provide De Luca and his team with state-of-the-art laboratories and a greenhouse/phytotron facility that will significantly enhance this research capability