The measurement of diversity

The analytical division of ADSI develops methods to determine the complex composition of plant extracts and identifies single compounds responsible for bioactivity. Analytical division not only shows whether natural products have an effect, but also how they work.

On nature’s path

The ADSI in Innsbruck is studying the effects of natural herbal products to disclose the secrets of medicinal plants. This know-how is applied to support the regional industry with product development and product safety.

Technology transfer and exploitation of academic research

The ADSI is an interface between academic research and industrial development. Results of the basic and applied research are further developed into technology platforms that are offered as research services or used for the development of new innovative products for the industrial partners.



The analytical division of ADSI has special knowledge in the separation and analysis of complex multi-component mixtures. To implement this knowledge, ADSI has an extensive range of analytical methods and equipment at its disposal.

Herbal preparations offer a unique approach for the development of phytodrugs, phytocosmetics and food supplements. Since herbal preparations like plant extracts are multi-component mixtures, they typically possess a broad spectrum of bioactivities. Their potential applications are generally designed to influence many biological pathways simultaneously. Therefore, the development of herbal products appears promising for applications in which several cell types, organs, biological processes as well as interactions between them might play an important role.


Production and screening of plant extracts

Plants and algae are first analyzed using the state-of-the-art methods to find out which ingredients are present in which composition and in what quantities. This information is used to select extraction methods that will bring the active substances from the plant into solution in the best possible way. Extracts containing the particularly effective ingredients in higher concentrations than the original extract are produced using sophisticated extraction and separation methods. Subsequently, the plant extracts are tested in biological cell systems in vitro.

Bionorica SE is the first partner in the field of herbal medicinal products to use ADSI’s technology platforms. The aim of the screening conducted by Bionorica at ADSI is to identify bioactive ingredients in herbal extracts for drug development.

Mass spectrometry and separation techniques

Mass spectrometric analysis of plant compounds requires special knowledge and technologies, since plants usually contain hundreds to thousands of small, low-molecular constituents, so-called metabolites, in very different concentrations. Therefore, the extract samples are first separated into their individual components by high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC), and are then detected by UV and mass spectrometry. In a further step, the compounds are fragmented by means of MSn technologies and their structure  elucidated using MS databases.

Bioinformatic evaluation

The results of the analytical investigations are analyzed in the bioinformatics division of ADSI, where scientists are looking for correlations between the effects and the ingredients present in the plant extracts. With the help of these findings, they optimize the extracts so that an even better effect can be achieved.

The supernatant of the cells, the liquid medium in which the cells live, is also analyzed for its components. This enables to analyze which substances are secreted by cells into their environment as a result of treatment with plant extracts or cosmetic formulations. From results of these analyses, scientists can conclude the mode of action (how the sample influences the biological test system) and which compounds are responsible for the particular bioactivity.

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