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

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Organized by the International Society for Natural Products Genomics and Drug Discovery &  the Human Genetics Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo the third International Conference on Natural Products Genomics and Drug Discovery was held in Colombo this week.

Prof. Vajira Dissanayake
Prof. Vajira Dissanayake, Speaking during the inauguration ceremony

This year the conference had been organized under the theme “Basic and Translational Research on Cancer and Inflammation” and many local and international scientists participated the conference sharing their knowledge on Natural Product Genomics and Drug Discovery.

Susil Premajayantha
Minister Susil Premajayantha speaking during the inauguration of the conference proceedings 

The conference, brought together clinicians and basic scientists from USA, Sri Lanka and other countries, 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 will be examined.

The conference was inaugurated under the patronage of Mr. Susil Premajayantha, Minister of Science, Research and Innovation and was co-chaired by Prof. Priya Weerasinghe from University of Texas Medical School, Houston, Texas, Prof. Vajira H. W. 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. Prof. Jennifer Perera, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo and Prof. Lakshman Dissanayake, Vice chancellor, University of Colombo too were present at this occasion.

Prof. John Hancock from the McGovern Medical School in Houston, Texas delivered the keynote address, in his talk he discussed about Novel chemotherapeutic agents used in cancer treatments and Ras signaling pathway.
During six symposium sessions following  presentations were done by local and international scientists.
Scientists
Many Local and International Scientists presented their findings during the symposium sessions, 1- Dr. Kamal Perera, 2. Shen-An Hwang, 3. Prof. Dilip deSilva, 4. Prof. Piyal Marasinghe, 5. Dr. Hemali Goonasekara 6. Dr. Priya Weerasinghe , 7. Prof. Preethi Udugama 8. Dr. Pubudu Samarakoon
  • Treatment of Cancer in Sri Lankan Traditional Medicine – Kamal Perera MD, PhD, Institute of Indigenous Medicine, University of Colombo
  • Lactoferrin, an immune modulator with adjuvant capabilities – Shen-An Hwang, Mcgovern Medical School, Houston, Texas, USA
  • Probing Sri Lankan Biodiversity for pharmaceutical leads – Prof. Dilip De Silva, Faculty of Science,
    University of Colombo
  • Importance of cultivation of medicinal plants in Sri Lanka – Assoc. Prof. Piyal Marasinghe, Adviser, Provincial Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medicine, Uva Province
  • Developing cellular platforms for natural product testing – Hemali Goonasekara MBBS, DPath. MD, Senior Lecturer, Human Genetics Unit, Faculty of Medicine,University of Colombo.
  • Genetic variants associated with risk and clinico-pathological profile of sporadic breast cancer in Sri Lankan women – Nirmala Sirisena, MBBS, MSc, Senior Lecturer, Human Genetics Unit, Faculty of Medicine,University of Colombo
  • Medicinal Plant Research and commercialization: Opportunities and Challenges – Prof. Aruna Weerasooriya PhD, Texas A & M University, Prairie View, Texas, USA
  • Science behind the nature’s ability in cancer prevention and treatment- Gomika Udugamasooriya PhD, Department of Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, USA
  • Implementation of a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) program in a medical school – Priya Weerasinghe MD, PhD, Module Director and Co-Director, Morphoproteomic Research Laboratory, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, University of Texas Medical School, Houston, Texas, USA
  • 3D Organisation of the Genome – Implications for Cancer – Pubudu Samarakoon PhD, Institute for Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
  • Bioprospecting for drug leads from selected sponges and medicinal plants in Sri Lanka: Pilot studies – Prof. Preethi Udugama  PhD, Professor in Zoology,  Department of Zoology and Environmental Sciences, University of Colombo
  • Use of animal cell culture in screening of  natural products based drug research – Dr. S.S.S.B.D Preethi Soysa PhD, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo

The lectures were followed by five presentations by PhD students of who are engaged in their PhD studies and research work.

Student Presentations
Four Students from Institute of indigenous Medicine, University of Colombo who are doing their PhDs presented during the conference, From the top left – MS Pallie, WASS Weerakoon, KPKR Karunagoda, JM Dahanayake

The two day conference was concluded with a panel discussion in which scientists engaged in a scientific discussion with the audience on various topics presented during the symposium sessions. In this discussion scientists mainly highlighted the rich biodiversity and the Ayurveda system which can be effectively used to treat many illnesses including cancer it self. And also they highlighted the lack of proper system to do clinical trials within Sri Lanka which has resulted many difficulties in drug discovery research.

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