Wednesday, October 9, 2019

A Brief History of Plant Use in Medicine

Plant
Photo by vickholius nugroho on Unsplash

Thomas Brutnell, PhD, is co-founder of the agricultural biotech company Benson Hill Biosystems and consults with various major seed companies. Passionate about the use of plants in medicine, Thomas Brutnell is the vice president of Gateway Biotechnology, a company that is developing hearing loss treatments using natural, plant products.

Plants have been a rich source of remedies for humans for millennia. Evidence exists proving that ancient civilizations used plant-based products to treat diseases. The oldest record of medicinal plant usage dates back approximately 5,000 years and is a collection of about a dozen drug preparation recipes written on Sumerian clay tablets. Other records, dating back 2,600 years, are attributed to the Mesopotamians and were also written on clay tablets.

Ancient Chinese, Babylonian, Assyrian, and Egyptian civilizations also had long histories of using herbs as medicine. This knowledge was inscribed in cuneiform on clay tablets and passed from generation to generation. The Egyptians recorded their medicinal recipes on tombs and on papyrus. The Ebers Papyrus, for example, is one of the oldest of these recordings. It contains more than 600 plant-based prescription drugs and was studied by, among others, Greek medical writer Hippocrates, considered by many as the father of medicine.

Through his writings, which included more than 200 medicinal plants, Hippocrates paved the way for other European medics like Celsus (25BC – 50AD) and Dioscorides who penned the famous De Matteria Medica in 77 AD. The book contained more than 900 drugs, most of which were based from plants. The book was translated into several languages and its prescriptions used for over a millennium. Along the way, more medicinal plants were discovered and written about by European and American medical researchers.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Gateway Biotechnology Chosen to Participate in an Accelerator Program

Group of people in a meeting
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash
With over two decades of experience in the fields of plant genomics and developmental biology, Dr. Thomas Brutnell serves as the vice president of Gateway Biotechnology in St. Louis, Missouri. In this role, Dr. Thomas Brutnell oversees the product development of repurposed FDA-approved drugs and new drug candidates to prevent and treat noise-induced hearing loss.

Gateway Biotechnology was chosen to join the MassChallenge Boston, a zero-equity, competition-based accelerator program that offers an opportunity for startups to win more than $1 million in cash prizes. 

Founded in Boston, Massachusetts, in 2009, MassChallenge supports startups with the highest potential to make a positive impact across all industries worldwide. In March 2019, MassChallenge chose more than 100 startups with focuses ranging from health care and life sciences to high tech, consumer goods, cleantech, and social impact to participate in the accelerator program.

In addition to winning cash prizes, startups will also gain access to expert mentorship, networking with corporate partners, and spacious co-working spaces at the Innovation and Design Building in Boston. During the program, the participants will partake in an evidence-based curriculum that tackles the essential stages of product development.