16 September 1999
Medicinal hope for common weeds

SCIENTISTS are examining common varieties of British weeds and plants in the hope of discovering promising medicinal compounds.

Biologists from the University of Bristol have developed an extraction process which takes indigo to be taken from the woad plant.

The researchers have also identified high yielding woad plants, which could make woad a commercially-viable crop for farmers.

The Ministry of Agriculture has provided £300,000 for the project, displayed at the British Association science festival in Sheffield.

Another team from the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research at Aberystwyth hopes to store “biologically active” compounds from plants.

Pharmaceutical and food firms could then choose these purified compounds to test and develop into drugs.