Gloria Montenegro: A life linked to the plants and innovation

Gloria Montenegro: A life linked to the plants and innovation

Generations of Agronomists and Forest Engineers specialized in plant sciences must, in part, their professional training to Professor Gloria Montenegro, academic holder of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, PUC, who characterized by his lucid and tireless mind, he has achieved various patents derived from his studies in plants, which hope to contribute positively to the life of Chileans.

With much energy received us in his office located on the campus of San Joaquin of the PUC, where many know it being a restless person, always looking for solutions to the problems faced. Commonly it has developed these attributes by hand of science. In that sense, this Professor of biology and natural sciences and researcher, says that his career was built for their efforts but also by the unconditional support of his spouse, who also came from a scientific lineage.

She is currently actively working on the same faculty that has done so for more than three decades. During the last few days has generated a stir, since one of its investigations was able to verify and classify the bactericidal effect of honey of ulmo opposite very negative human pathogens to health, that somehow could revolutionize the market of available antibiotics.

To learn more about this interesting finding and also the career of this outstanding professional, the biology society of Chile conducted an interview with Gloria Montenegro, who has been a member of the society for many years.

How does its work in the area of medicinal plants?

I started working with medicinal plants through the intensive work that developed in the United States for three years in a laboratory of phytochemistry of flavonoids in the University of Texas. In this regard, it is important to clarify that flavonoids are chemical compounds side plant, responsible for the majority of drugs that have been discovered.

That way I developed as botanical origin, since I liked the native flora from my early days, is so interested in obtaining medicinal products with biological activity of plants, what we did in the lab it was obtain a summary of the same to chemically analyze it and see if we were a new compound, finally, we investigated the biological properties of that summary. In that way, developed in the United States, I could witness multiple plants, some anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. In those years, we are dealing with many more properties that could study here in Chile.

Arriving in Chile, what he devoted himself?

To be in a school of Agronomy, I started to work on bacteria and fungi and to insert myself in the control of bacteria that affected plants and crops; so my first experience with honey was against bacteria Erwinia carotovorawhich is in charge of the rot of potatoes and bulbs in post harvest. Being a resident bacteria on earth it is not controllable pre-harvest and not predictable, so you have to take care of it in periods after the harvest.

In that context, if I get the summary of a honey that has its origin in plants of monofloral character, and apply the spray controlling this bacterium in post harvest, there will be no problems of eating potatoes, since the bee did the work prove that the extract is non-toxic. However, the problem when one looks for a new compound, drug, or a natural antibiotic, is that you have to test the toxicity, under that scenario, we can find several extracts in many plants, notably the alkaloids, which although eliminate bacteria they are useless because they are toxic.

The medicinal properties of honey

The hypothesis I considered was that if bees are going to get nectar from a plant that has medicinal properties, it would make sense that that product had the same properties of the plant. So, since from the beginning I was interested in working with native flora, it was not in my interest to work with eucalyptus or rosemary honeys, as they have been tested in countries in Europe and Australia. This is how I began to research our honeys, whose botanical origin was native or endemic, I worked with all the monofloral honeys that originate in native plants. Although ulmo and keel honey are better known, there are many more, including tiaca, tineo, corontillo and hazelnuts, among others.

Ulmo honey properties and interesting findings from the laboratory

Ulmo honey phenolic extract, where mostly are the composite type phenols and flavonoids, has a very important controlling activity of bacteria, and although I have tried its activity in many bacteria, now White were pathogenic human as the Staphylococcus aureusthe Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and finally the Escherichia coli. These agencies increasingly are more difficult to control with synthetic antibiotics today existing in a time where the resistance has increased, the search for new mechanisms to deal with these pathogens is very important.

Find in my microbiology lab that ulmo honey not only was bacteriostatic but bactericide also increased my interest and motivates me to continue on this path. What we have achieved is to put in the certification of honeys, from the commercial point of view, the botanical origin and biological properties. The group led by Professor Gloria Montenegro continues to study antibacterial characteristics of other native honey / endemic to Chile as Quillay, Tiaca and Tineo.

What did they do to establish the bactericidal range of ulmo honey?

We did something similar to what was done with manuka honey overseas, an emblem of antibacterial honey in the world. The difference with our work is that estimate the intensity of the effectiveness of honey or its summary, removing sugar from the equation and investigating their chemistry part. In that sense, we would be interested see the average concentration with which the bacterium was attacked; This is determined by the zone of inhibition observed in bacterial culture and with that we get the minimum inhibitory concentration (minimum concentration of the extract that will inhibit the bacteria). Together with the companies Bee Patagon and Andes NutraclinicWe determine the concentration with which bacteria is liquidated with honey extract and we get an average for several pathogenic bacteria, we transform the average by a factor. Finally what we generate is that you can have honey from factor 5 + (which already has an antibiotic level superior to the vast majority of the honeys) if the zone of inhibition has a certain diameter and the minimum inhibitory concentration corresponds to a number determined. All this calculated it to averages of various bacteria and determine these factors, which can be a factor 5 +, 10 +, 15 + 20 + support it NHF initials)Native Honey Factor).

With what will compare the effectiveness of this bactericidal ulmo honey?

The effects of antibiotics known as penicillin and tetracycline. The latter can be compared with factors of effectiveness of 20 and 15 honey; factor 5 is similar to penicillin, 10 is significantly higher than penicillin, but not to other antibiotics, and is worth mentioning that both the factor 15 and 20 are significantly higher than the streptomycins and Penicillins.

That is one of the properties of this finding, since if you eat a spoonful of this honey with factor 20 + would put control in your stomach for example bacteria as the Escherichia coli, in the event that the patient has diarrhea caused by its action. For this reason, it is so important to work the clinical part, in which we are already making inroads.

At the same time is dabbling in the University of La frontera ulmo honey envelope from 5 + for healing of venous ulcers shortening periods of treatment significantly.

Source: 4ID/CONGRESS, All rights reserved. ®
Journalist:Patricio Grunert Alarcón. ®

To be reproduced please
Quote as source a: 4ID-CONGRESS® /Patricio Grunert Alarcón, All rights reserved. ®