New medicine from nature

Parkinson’s disease is a complex neurological condition that is incurable and its cause is not understood. An estimated 80, 000 Australians live with Parkinson’s disease and with our ageing population this number will almost double by 2030. There is a pressing and unmet need to understand the causes of typical Parkinson’s disease and to discover and develop effective therapies to halt or even reverse the progressive degeneration that is a hallmark of this disease. At the Griffith University Eskitis Institute for Drug Discovery we are utilizing two unique resources, Nature Bank and Neuro Bank to discover new therapies for Parkinson’s disease.



Nature is an enormous and rich resource of compounds for drug discovery. We are using plants and marine organisms from our unique Nature Bank to identify new medicines for several human diseases, including Parkinson’s. To do this we use chemical compounds that have been extracted from samples of plants and marine organisms (called fractions) and test them for the ability to enhance the survival of cells donated by Parkinson’s disease patients from our unique Neuro Bank. Using proton-NMR we then analyse the biologically active Nature Bank fractions to identify individual compounds. Each compound is then isolated and re-tested on cells donated by Parkinson’s disease patients. The next step is to try to determine how such compounds act on Parkinson’s cells in order to assess their suitability for development as a possible new medicine.

Additional Information

Nature Bank is a storehouse of chemical diversity derived from over 63, 000 samples of plants and marine organisms from Queensland, China, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. This is a priceless reservoir of potential drugs for human diseases.

Neuro Bank is a collection of over 200 olfactory stem cell lines collected from Parkinson’s and Schizophrenia patients along with healthy controls. These cells can be thawed and grown on demand for academic and industry collaborators and represent excellent cellular models of neurological disease for probing disease biology or testing of candidate drugs.

Know More: The Eskitis Institute for Drug Discovery