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Young Russian pharmacists carry on groundbreaking research
Scientists estimate that soon three quarters of the world's population will depend on plants for medicine. But correctly classifying them can take years and, according to a group of Russian students, is far from foolproof. Now, their pioneering efforts could change the face of botanical medicine.
They believe that the classification of many plants may have been done incorrectly.
Postgraduate student Olga Sharova has recently proved that narcissine - and not rutin - is the main element in marigolds.
"I think the attitude to our work should be tolerant. Our European colleagues made a mistake at some point when they wrongly classified the plant on its predominant matter, and now we've corrected it", she said.
Students at the Samara lab don't take long summer holidays as the season is the richest for those interested in herbal crops.
Moroccan Mohammed Lamrini has come to the Russian city for its lavender. He says his native country doesn't boast the variety of the plant he need for his tests.
The collection of the lab counts several dozens of similar substances which help cure deadly diseases worldwide.
Silybin is a strong substance which helps treat liver ailments. It is produced worldwide, but it was in Samara that the compound was discovered for the first time.
"We're the only ones in the world who have managed to educe pure silybin in crystals. Even the Germans can still produce only amorphous powder", said Vitaly Ryzhov, a postgraduate student in medicine.
The young scientists are currently working on a drug which can cure death-cap poisoning, although it will be some time before it is available as it takes at least ten years of testing to bring a drug to the market.