The goal of the Tennessee Center for Botanical Medicine Research is to investigate plants for bioactive compounds. These compounds are isolated and screened for antibacterial, anticancer, antifungal, antiprotozoal, antiviral and immunomodulatory activities. While the Center screens numerous plants, our emphasis is on ginseng (red and white as well as different geographic varieties), and the polysaccharides and ginsenosides that can be isolated from ginseng, as well as hemp and the non-psychotropic cannabinoids that can be isolated from hemp.
Our recent article in the Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology reports the ability of purified ginsenoside 20(S)-Rg3 to inhibit herpes simplex viruses, both types 1 and 2. While the mechanism of the inhibition has not been elucidated, our data suggests that the ginsenoside interferes with the interaction of the virus and the host cell. Current work involves testing the ability of 20(S)-Rg3 to protect mice that have been challenged with herpes simplex virus-1. Our goal is to demonstrate the potential of ginsenoside 20(S)-Rg3 to decrease virus titers and prevent lethal outcome following infection. This purified ginseng compound may show promise as a nutraceutical (nutritional supplement) or even a pharmaceutical (drug) that could alleviate human morbidity due to herpes simplex viruses.
Stephen Wright received his Ph.D. in microbiology/virology in 1990 from the University of North Dakota Medical School. Following post-doctoral work at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, he came to Middle Tennessee State University. Dr. Wright is a professor in the Department of Biology. His research focuses on herpes simplex and influenza viruses.
Elliot Altman received his Ph.D. degree in biology/molecular genetics in 1991 from the California Institute of Technology. Following post-doctoral work at the University of Utah, he went to the University of Georgia before coming to Middle Tennessee State University. Dr. Altman is a professor in the Department of Biology at Middle Tennessee State University. His research focuses on natural products.