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Chemical Diversity of Bioactive Marine Natural Products: An Illustrative Case Study

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The marine environment contains a number of plants, animals and micro organisms, which, due to the unique adaptations to their habitat, elaborate a wide diversity of natural products with specific bioactivities. These products provide a rich source of chemical diversity that can be used to design and develop new potentially useful therapeutic agents. The huge variety of the structures present in marine organisms has been illustrated through the case study of the sponge Plakortis simplex, whose chemical analysis, started in our laboratories about ten years ago, revealed an incredible variety and abundance of secondary metabolites. The obtained results have been presented with the intention of drawing some conclusions of general relevance. Particularly, the problem of the limited availability of natural compounds for both structural and preliminary pharmacological studies has been discussed, this issue becoming a serious obstacle when the pharmacological research reaches a more advanced stage. Furthermore, the origin of the chemodiversity in Plakortis simplex and, in general, in marine invertebrates has been discussed; in this respect, the possible cooperative role of symbiotic micro-organisms in the biosynthesis of the varied metabolic content typical of these organisms has been considered.
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Keywords: alkaloids; bioactive natural products; chemical diversity; glycolipids; marine; plakortis simplex; polyketides; review

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Dipartimento di Chimica delle Sostanze Naturali, Universit√† di Napoli “Federico II”, via D. Montesano 49, I-80131 Napoli, Italy

Publication date: 2004-07-01

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  • 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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