WPTRC | Natural Products
The Western Pacific Tropical Research Center's natural product scientists conduct research in the field of natural product chemistry, particularly on drug discovery and nutraceuticals derived from herbs and medicinal plants grown in Guam.
The extraction and characterization of omega-3 fish oil from marine fish byproducts is another interesting project for food and nutraceuticals. The Natural Products Lab focuses on the use of supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) technology for the extraction of plant and fish extracts, as well as for the qualitative and quantitative chemical screening of such extracts and the analysis of the pharmacological properties of biologically active compounds. The Natural Products Lab produces herbal supplements with endemic herbs and medicinal plants using green technology and offers scientific support for the ethnopharmaceutical usage of medicinal plants.
Guam has a diverse range of ecosystems, including limestone forests, wetland ecosystems, savannas, strands, and ravine forests. Many plant species have been used for centuries as herbal medicine for the remedies of ailments and as a preventative dietary supplement by traditional healers. Medicinal plants contain a wide variety of secondary metabolites, such as alkaloids, phenolic compounds, terpenoids, and sulfur-containing compounds, which have been found to have different pharmacological activities. The indigenous plants of Guam could be a potential source of new drug discovery to treat modern-day diseases following extensive research on proper identification, phytochemical extraction, separation, and characterization of bioactive compounds.
Extraction is the most vital step in separating the desired bioactive compounds from the raw materials. Conventional extraction methods are usually employed; however, they have drawbacks, such as low extraction yield and selectivity, long extraction period, degradation of heat liable compounds, and use of hazardous organic solvent. SFE has recently gained popularity as one of the most effective green extraction techniques because of its improved selectivity, higher extraction yields at low temperatures and short extraction times, greater fractionation capabilities, and less environmental impact.
The Natural Products Lab is in the process of purchasing an SFE system. The SFE system represents a sustainable alternative to classical extraction methods for fractionating and separating natural chemical components, such as flavonoids, essential oils, seed oils, carotenoids, and fatty acids from plant, agricultural byproducts and marine species of Guam.
Guam has a huge number of underutilized da’ok trees, which produce about 5,000 to 10,000 seeds per tree per season, depending on the size and age of tree. The oil extracted from seeds, called tamanu oil, is traditionally used in the Pacific islands for its for various health and beauty benefits. The Natural Products Lab is conducting a study to extract tamanu oil using green technology in order to identify and quantify its bioactive compounds and to evaluate its bioactivities to develop skin care products.
Funding source: Hatch
Tuna is one of the most important recreational and commercial fishery species of Guam. Fish processing results in up to 50% of the whole fish weight being discarded as byproduct/waste. This byproduct could have value as a good source of omega-3 fatty acid. This project will determine the nutritional profile of tuna byproducts.
Funding source: None
Last updated: September 2023
Mangilao, Guam 96913
The University of Guam is a U.S. Land Grant and Sea Grant Institution accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. UOG is an equal opportunity provider and employer committed to diversity, equity and inclusion through island wisdom values of inadahi yan inagofli'e: respect, compassion, and community.