Department of Pharmacognosy

Pharmacognosy, derived from the Greek words “pharmakon” (drug) and “gnosis” (knowledge), is probably the oldest modern science, and generally the study of crude drugs of plant and animal origin (in the form of tinctures, teas, poultices, powders, and other herbal formulations), and it incorporates authentication and quality control of such drugs, based on macroscopic and microscopic examinations of crude drugs. The term Pharmacognosy was first introduced by the Austrian physician Schmidt in 1811 and then in 1815 by Seydler in a work titled Analecta Pharmacognostica.

The American Society of Pharmacognosy defines pharmacognosy as "the study of the physical, chemical, biochemical and biological properties of drugs, drug substances or potential drugs or drug substances of natural origin as well as the search for new drugs from natural sources"

The objective of this subject is to give to the students of pharmacy the basic knowledge about the Medicinal Plants and Pharmacognosy and discussion of Medicinal Plants according to their uses and their effects upon the different organs of the body. It is related to botany and chemistry and it embraces several disciplines such as: commerce, botany, chemistry enzymology, genetics, quality control and pharmacology.

Phytochemistry is the study of phytochemicals, which are chemicals derived from plants. Those studying phytochemistry strive to describe the structures of the large number of secondary metabolic compounds found in plants, the functions of these compounds in human and plant biology, and the biosynthesis of these compounds. Plants synthesize phytochemicals for many reasons, including to protect themselves against insect attacks and plant diseases. Phytochemicals in food plants are often active in human biology, and in many cases have health benefits. The compounds found in plants are of many kinds, but most are in four major biochemical classes, the alkaloids, glycosides, polyphenols, and terpenes.

Current research in drug discovery from medicinal plants involves a multifaceted approach combining botanical, computational, phytochemical, biological, and molecular techniques. It is evident that drug discovery from medicinal plants continues to provide new and important leads against various pharmacological targets including cancer, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's, malaria, and pain. Several natural product drugs of plant origin have either recently been introduced or are currently involved in late-phase clinical trials.

Natural products, such as plants extract, either as pure compounds or as standardized extracts, provide unlimited opportunities for new drug discoveries because of the unmatched availability of chemical diversity. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 80% of the world's population relies on traditional medicine for their primary healthcare needs and nearly 20,000 medicinal plants exist in 91 countries including 12 mega biodiversity countries. The premier steps to utilize the biologically active compound from plant resources are extraction, pharmacological screening, isolation and characterization of bioactive compound, toxicological evaluation and clinical evaluation.

Medicinal plants are the most important source of life saving drugs for the majority of the world's population. Plant secondary metabolites are economically important as drugs, fragrances, pigments, food additives and pesticides. The biotechnological tools are important to select, multiply, improve and analyze medicinal plants. In-vitro production of secondary metabolites in plant cell suspension cultures has been reported from various medicinal plants and bioreactors are the key step towards commercial production of secondary metabolites by plant biotechnology. Genetic transformation is a powerful tool for enhancing the productivity of novel secondary metabolites; especially by Agrobacterium tumefacians . Combinatorial biosynthesis is another approach in the generation of novel natural products and for the production of rare and expensive natural products. DNA profiling techniques like DNA microarrays serve as suitable high throughput tools for the simultaneous analysis of multiple genes and analysis of gene expression that becomes necessary for providing clues about regulatory mechanism, biochemical pathways and broader cellular functions.

The department has two M.Pharm teachers.

The Department is equipped with

a. UV-Visible spectrophotometer,

b. centrifuge, Fluorimeter,

c. Distillation unit,

d. Karl Fischer Titrator,

e. conductivity meter,

f. Nephelometer & Turbidometer

g. pH meter.

h. In addition to this, the department has a computational facility for designing drug candidates.