Medicine from plants – ask your questions

Professor Sarah O’ Connor from the John Innes Centre, held a fantastic ‘AMA’ (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit on Thursday 3rd November 2016.

Sarah is one of 50+ independent scientists on our plant science panel. Previous AMAs with Professor Huw Jones and Professor Derek Stewart on crop breeding and sustainable agriculture were also hugely popular, with hundreds of questions asked and answered.

Here’s Sarah’s introduction to the AMA:

Plants produce hundreds of thousands of complex molecules called “natural products” that have many uses. Anti-cancer medication such as vinblastine and taxol, and the anti-malarial drugs artemisinin and quinine are all natural products that are produced by a plant. But we still don’t understand exactly how plants, such as the medicinal plant Madagascar periwinkle, make such powerful but complicated compounds. My research is about trying to find this out. If we can, it will be the first step towards making “new-to-nature” compounds with even better qualities such as reduced side effects.

I am on the Sense about Science Plant Science Panel, where you can ask your questions and get an answer from scientists. The Panel is made up of over 50 independent plant science researchers. You can ask questions to them on Twitter (@senseaboutsci #plantsci) Facebook or using their online form. Answers are sent back within a couple of days and posted online. The Panel has answered close to 400 questions over the last three years and it’s a great way to cut through the noise around what can sometimes be a really polarised debate.

Visit the Reddit AMA page to read the questions and answers from this session. (3 Nov 2016)

Published: 1 November 2016