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The Botanical Core Return to Cores

The Botanical Core of the Botanical Dietary Supplement Research Center facilitates the work of the three primary Research Projects, the Integrative Biology Core (IBC) as well as Pilot Research and Training Programs. The complex nature of botanicals dictates that the genetic makeup of the plant, the growing conditions and the method of botanical preparation all have significant effects on the overall composition of and biological effect of the botanical product. Moreover, the effect of botanicals to convey a biological response, such as enhancing basic resiliency, is likely the result of the complex interactions of multiple bioactive compounds. To address this complexity, the Botanical Core uses state-of-the-art phytochemical discovery, characterization, standardization and production approaches and modern greenhouse facilities to perform its mission which include the following specific aims:


Aim 1. The Botanical Core prepares and provides specific botanical materials for the Center’s research projects, pre-clinical, clinical and pilot studies, activity-guided isolation of bioactives and characterization of their interactions, analytical and structural chemistry support for the research activities, quality control and botanical authentication when necessary.


Aim 2. The Botanical Core collaborates with each project, pilot projects and the IBC to examine the bioaccessibility and bioavailability of botanical bioactives. Bioavailability and pharmacokinetic parameters will be measured using currently utilized analytical techniques. 


Aim 3. The Botanical Core assists in design and conduct of pilot studies and in the education and training of new investigators for biobotanical research, providing specific recommendations and/or evaluations of the quality and sourcing of botanical materials to be used for proposed studies.


Aim 4. The Botanical Core conducts original research with the following objectives: improve materials, methods and instruments for ongoing projects, create enabling approaches in the advance of new projects, and screen and identify new candidates and future projects.


TIM sub-Core. Located within the Department of Plant Biology and Pathology at Rutgers University is the Center for Gastrointestinal Research (CGIR), a collaboration between Rutgers University and the Dutch based research institute TNO. TIM units are currently being used by large pharmaceutical companies but Rutgers is the only university in the U.S. to have a TIM and to use the unit for studies with botanicals. Dr. Ribnicky is the PI of the Botanical Core and manager of this facility. The Center is focused on the use of the TNO gastroIntestinal Model (TIM; Figure 1), a dynamic multi-compartmental, computer-controlled model that closely simulates all in vivo conditions of the upper gastrointestinal tract of humans (2). The model was designed to study a variety of topics requiring the continuous computer-controlling and -monitoring of the changes that occur to the contents in each compartment from which samples can be taken during the gastro-intestinal digestion process. Analysis of these samples give detailed information about the transit, release, stability, digestion, and availability for intestinal absorption (bioaccessibility*) of nutrients and functional compounds. *Bioaccessibility is defined as the amount of a compound that is released from a food matrix and is able to pass through membranes with a cutoff of 5 kDa during transit through the stomach and small intestine, thus reflecting availability for absorption in vivo.

Figure 1: TIM Picture and Schematic Front panel of the TIM system and schematic diagram showing the stomach compartment (A) and three small- intestinal compartments: duodenum (C), jejunum (E), and ileum (G) connected by vertical peristaltic valves, including the pyloric sphincter (B) and the ileo-cecal valve (H). Each compartment with secretion tubes, such as gastric acid and pepsin in the stomach (I), and pancreatin and bile in the duodenum (J), pH electrodes (P), pressure (S) or level sensors (Q) and temperature sensors (R). Connected to the jejunum (left) and ileum (right) are semi-permeable hollow-fiber membrane units (M) for continuous absorption of digested products and water absorption (N).

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