International Conference on Natural Products Genomics and Drug Discovery Held in Colombo

The International Conference on Natural Products Genomics and Drug Discovery 2016 was held on 23rd and 24th of June at the Galadari Hotel, Colombo and was organized by the International Society for Natural Products Genomics and Drug Discovery.

Mrs Anusha Amarasinghe lighting the oil lamp
Chief Guest of the event, Director General of National Science Foundation (NSF) Mrs Anusha Amarasinghe lighting the oil lamp

The conference, brought together clinicians and basic scientists from USA, Sri Lanka and other countries, who focused on the multi-targeted approach to treat  and prevent cancer and inflammation using various natural products. Natural product chemistry, their structure-function relationship, potential mechanism of action, drug interactions and future potential were also discussed.

Chief guest of the event was Mrs  Anusha Amarasinghe who is the Director General of National Science Foundation (NSF), Sri Lanka.

Prof. Prof. Vajira H. W. Dissanayake addressing the gathering
Prof. Vajira H. W. Dissanayake addressing the gathering

The event was inaugurated by the conference chair Prof. Priya Weerasinghe, Module Director and Co-Director, Morphoproteomic Research Laboratory, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, University of Texas Medical School and followed by the addresses by  conference co chairs, Prof. Vajira Dissanayake, Director, Human Genetics Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo and Dr. Kamal Perera Head of Department of Ayurveda Pharmacology and Pharmaceutics, Institute of Indigenous Medicine, University of Colombo.

The keynote speech was delivered by Prof. Varsha Gandhi, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. In her speech Prof. Gandhi discussed about two anticancer drugs Ventoclax and Navitoclax which have been derived from a natural compound called Gossypol from the cotton plant.

Prof. Varsha Gandhi delivering the keynote speech.
Prof. Varsha Gandhi delivering the keynote speech.

During the symposium scientists from USA, Sri Lanka and other countries discussed various aspects of natural products and their importance in treating and preventing various cancer types, and inflammation.

Dr Ransome van der Hoeven from Dental School, University of Texas introduced his findings on using Essential oils as antimicrobial agents in endodontic treatments.

During the plenary sessions on day one Dr Chandra Bertholomeusz and Dr Geoffrey Bertholomeusz from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center,Dr Ryan Kieser from McGovern Medical School, University of Texas discussed many modern approaches in ant cancer drug discovery and development.

Participants of the ICNPGDD 2016
Participants of the ICNPGDD 2016

Dr Hemali Goonasekara from Human Genetics Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo urged about Building a proper platform for anti-cancer drug discovery/testing in Sri Lanka.

The second day plenary session included speeches from Dr Robert Hunter from McGovern Medical School, University of Texas, Dr Jason Koo from Illumina, Singapore, Dr Bhaswar Maity from Alliance Global, UAE, and Dr Dharini van der Hoeven from School of Dentistry, Diagnostic and Biomedical Sciences, University of Texas.

And also many scientists from local and international universities who are engaged in researches related to Natural Products and anti cancer drug discovery presented their findings. Awards were given away to three of the best  presentations given below,

1 st prize – Toxicity Investigations:  Assessment of Different Neem (Azadirachta indica) Preparations for Anticancer Drug Discovery 

 

2nd Prize – Biological activity studies of Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam. Leaves

 

3rd Prize – Acute toxicity study on hot water extract of Tragia involucrata Linn. in rats

 

The conference held in Colombo was followed by field visits to Ayurvedic Hospital and Ayurveda Products Factory, and the Royal Botanical Garden in Peradeniya.