Qu Research Team | Natural Medicine Biosynthsis

Principle Investigator Dr. Yang Qu

Associated Professor and Cannabis Health Research Chair

University of New Brunswick, yang.qu@unb.ca

PhD University of Calgary

BSc Peking University

​Our interests lie in the beauty of complex plant-derived natural products and the immense enzymes that evolved to make them. Our quest is to uncover the mysteries of biosynthetic pathways for plant specialized metabolites and make use of the exciting synthetic power for next-generation pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Biosynthesis of indole alkaloids

Monoterpenoid indole alkaloids constitute one of the largest and most diverse alkaloid groups in nature including many human medicines such as anticancer vinblastine. Building on our successes in identifying and characterizing 11 enzymes from the 28-step vinblastine biosynthetic pathway, we continue to explore the biosynthesis of complex alkaloid medicines.

Biosynthesis of polyketides

Polyketides and derivatives are a rich resource for antibiotics and medicines, which also includes cannabinoids of both polyketide and terpenoid origins. We are interested in understanding the biosynthesis of these medicinal compounds and inventing new therapeutic molecules based on their core stuctures

Synthetic biology

With the ability of modifying the genome of baker's yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, it is possible to produce complex plant metabolites via yeast fermentation. We combine our strengths in gene discovery in plant metabolic pathways and yeast genomic editing to provide alternative methods for sustainable and economical production of plant-based medicines.