Natural products research relies on a combination of knowledge of traditional medicinal uses and application of modern scientific approaches. Health benefits associated with traditional uses can be verified in clinical trials. However, more detailed understanding of mechanisms of action requires testing of cellular functions when exposed to the test product.
Working with natural products in the laboratory often requires innovative problem solving.
- Product preparation prior to cell culture
- Choice of cellular models
Product handling in preparation for applying complex natural products to live cells in biological assays must be discussed and determined. If several options are available, pilot tests may help indicate the ideal path for further testing.
When applying cellular models in laboratory tests involving an immune or inflammatory challenge, the timing of when to treat live cells with natural products and extracts is important. If a natural product is applied before an inflammatory challenge this may mimic preventive effects, whereas if a natural product is applied to cells after an inflammatory challenge, the results may closer reflect whether the product supports the resolution of an inflammatory situation. We have developed cellular assays that allow parallel testing of several scenarios, as a model for examining preventive versus treatment effects.
Moving through sequential phases of testing, starting from basic cellular models for proof-of-concept ,and advancing through more complex cellular models, is a foundational part of preparing a strategic research plan.