Natural Products in the Process of Finding New Drug Candidates

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Abstract:

Natural derived or originated compounds still play a major role as drugs, and as lead structures for the development of synthetic molecules. About 50% of the drugs introduced to the market during the last 20 years are derived directly or indirectly from small biogenic molecules. In the future, natural products will continue to play a major role as active substances, model molecules for the discovery and validation of drug targets. A multidisciplinary approach to drug discovery involving the generation of truly novel molecular diversity from natural product sources, combined with total and combinatorial synthetic methodologies provides the best solution to increase the productivity in drug discovery and development.

Screening for new drugs in plants implies the screening of extracts for the presence of novel compounds and an investigation of their biological activities. It is currently estimated that approximately 420 000 plant species exist in nature. For the purpose of lead discovery, or for the scientific validation of a traditional medicinal plant or a phytopharmaceutical, active principals in complex matrices need to be identified. Therefore, the interfacing of biological and chemical assessment becomes the critical issue.

Drug discovery from plants can be guided by epidemiologic studies facilitated with computer assisted HPLC microfractionation and microplate technology. Epidemiologic studies have shown that high dietary flavonoid intake may be associated with decreased risk for cardiovascular disease. Chlamydia pneumoniae is a common human pathogen and epidemiological and clinical studies have shown a connection between chronic C. pneumoniae infection, atherosclerosis and the risk of myocardial infarction. We will present here the detection of natural compounds active against C. pneumoniae as an example.

Keywords: chlamydia; drug discovery; flavonoids; high troughput screening; natural products

Document Type: Review Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2174/0929867043365116

Affiliations: Department of Pharmacy, Division of Pharmacognosy, PO Box 56, FIN-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland

Publication date: June 1, 2004

More about this publication?
  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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