Identification of Hypericum using Microscopy and DNA

Period of Performance: 08/01/2006 - 07/31/2008


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Stoney Forensic, Inc.
Chantilly, VA 20151
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Hypericum or St. John's Wort is a widely used herbal. Differentiating Hypericum perforation, the target Hypericum species used in herbals, from other morphologically similar species is difficult in unprocessed and processed samples. This makes it hard for regulators, producers, researchers, and consumers to test the contents of St. John's Wort products. It makes it difficult for researchers to conduct comparative and species specific research on topics such as effectiveness in treating different conditions and side effects. The overall goal of this project is to use molecular systematics and forensic microscopy to develop a practical means to identify and differentiate between small quantities of different species and types of Hypericum in various processed and partially processed forms. Phase II will develop a prototype assay to identify a subset of different types of Hypericum. An integrated method will be developed, combining new DMA data, specialized microscopical techniques and existing biochemical data. This method will generate products and services that will allow all sectors of the Hypericum market to rapidly, reliably, and cost effectively identify varieties of H. perforatum and differentiate among other species of potential adulterant Hypericum. The project has five specific objectives: - Develop a method to differentiate among different types of processed Hypericum using DMA - Develop a complimentary method to differentiate among multiple types of processed Hypericum using specialized microscopical techniques - Create a combined protocol and reference database integrating both methods along with existing chemical data on the hypothesized active ingredients - Create products and services to enable regulators, producers, and researchers to use these methods - Produce a model that can be used to address similar needs with other herbal remedies. Phase II aims are to expand the Phase I dataset for Hypericum and develop a working prototype assay for the detection, identification, and quantification for Hypericum species.