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A Tempe lab is turning to nature to search for treatments to fight diseases

The Ric Scalzo Institute for Botanical Medicine has the clearance to study illnesses like the flu, MERSA, infectious skin diseases and more.

TEMPE, Ariz. — A state of the art lab in Tempe is digging into plant medicine to help us when we’re sick. Lab researchers are also teaming with Arizona State University to work on different medicines to help fight COVID-19 and more.

Researchers at the Ric Scalzo Institute for Botanical Medicine are studying all kinds of plants. They're using nature as a pharmacy to fight many illnesses we come in contact with. Some of those are the flu, rhinovirus, zika and different kinds of coronavirus.

The Rick Scalzo institute is unique because it’s a multi-disciplinary research center under one roof. Dr. Jeffrey Langland is the research director at the Ric Scalzo Institute. 

“Whether that be with herpes or COVID-19, we can work with a whole variety of different viruses, as well as bacteria, where bacteria antibiotic resistance has become a problem," Dr. Langland said.

It’s taking botanical research to the next level, as researchers look at the actions with plants and viruses.

“Why study plants? Because, most pharmaceutical drugs have their origins in plants, so it’s not something novel," Dr. Langland said. "We’re going back to that rich tradition of various cultures that have used plants for medical purposes for hundreds of thousands of years.”

The lab has the clearance to study illnesses like the flu, MERSA, infectious skin diseases and more.

“We’re testing a number of different botanicals for their ability to kill bacteria by novel mechanisms and treat some of these bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics," Dr. Langland said.

And the institute teams up with ASU to study the interactions of different plants with COVID-19, because ASU has a bio safety level three lab clearance.

Since collaborating with ASU, the institute said eight medicinal plants have been found with SARS-COV-2 activity, and three patents are in the works now.

The lab said more research is happening to bring the medicines for various illnesses and diseases to us.

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