Head of Innovation and Scientific Communication, SEQENS Cosmetics.

His intervention Biomim'expo 2019 :

Self-medication in primates: towards a new bio-inspired model of discovery of phytomolecules of interest

What if the behavioural observation of certain animal species gave us access to precious clues in the identification of new bioactive compounds?

Zoopharmacognosy is based on the following observation: to treat themselves, certain animal species use plants with no particular nutritional value that nevertheless contain secondary metabolites of interest for certain pathologies that affect them. The first observations concerning self-medication in primates were described by Janzen (1) in 1978 and this research then expanded with investigations carried out on the baboon in Ethiopia (2).

The process of discovering new natural substances is nowadays mainly based on chemotaxonomy, bioguided screening and ethnopharmacology (traditional human knowledge). Beyond the knowledge generated by humans, there is therefore a relevance to (re)consider the natural tropism of certain species towards unusual plants in the context of their diet.

As these observations have not yet been fully exploited in the selection of plants for pharmacology and/or dermatology, SEQENS Cosmetics is taking a closer look at this field of research via a discovery platform dedicated to zoopharmacognosy. An initial study was initiated using a plant capable of protecting the myocardium of gorillas via mechanisms linked to inflammation. With its experience in plant extraction, the laboratory is working on the identification of anti-inflammatory fractions that can respond to inflammatory disorders encountered in humans.

Several actions are also being studied to preserve, in parallel, certain areas subject to human-animal conflict and to promote the accessibility of these plants to animal species in their original biotope.

References :

(1) Janzen DH (1978) Complications in interpreting the chemical defences of trees against tropicalarborealpl ant-eating vertebrates. In: Montgomery GG (ed) The ecology of arboreal folivores. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., pp 73-84

(2) (2) Phillips-Conroy JE (1986) Baboons, diet, and disease: food plant selection and schistosomiasis. In: Taub D, King F (eds) Current perspectives in primate socialdynamics. Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, pp 287-304

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