The pharmaceutical industry and natural products: Historical status and new trends

David, B. ; Wolfender, J.L. ; Dias, D.A. (03-Jun-14)

Owing to the high diversity of terrestrial; and marine organisms, natural products (secondary; metabolites) are some of the most successful source of; drug leads for the treatment of many diseases and; illnesses. In the 1990s, advancements in automation; [high-throughput screening (HTS)] and isolation; technologies resulted in the surge in research towards; natural products both in the fields of human health and; agriculture. These strategies and techniques generated; a substantial shift towards this ‘green Eldorado’, a real; ‘Green Rush’ between 1990 and 2000. However, in the; early 2000s most of the big Pharmas terminated their; HTS and bioprospecting endeavours but to date, the; low productivity of combichem and rational drug; design is silently positioning pharmacognosy back on; the rails and natural product discovery is remerging as; a reputable source of current drugs on the market.; Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has come; to the realisation of the importance of biodiversity; which would be able to offer affordable, therapeutic; solutions to the majority of the world population. The; preservation of the world’s biodiversity and its access; is a critical issue which could hamper a serene; utilisation of natural products in the developing world; with herbal-based phytopharmaceuticals representing; a significant share of the total world pharmaceutical; market. This review presents an industrial perspective; discussing natural product drug discovery, lead; research, botanicals, pro-drugs, synergy effects, drugs; interactions with botanicals, traditional medicines,; reverse pharmacognosy and presents the difficulties in; accessing biodiversity

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