Nature is the world’s original pharmacy. Returning to medicine’s roots could help fill drug discovery gaps

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As humans have evolved over time approx 6 million yearsSuccess in modern medicine as we know it today was only a step in 19th and 20th centuries. So how have humans managed to survive through millions of years of disease and illness without modern medicine and drugs?

This is the question I wondered about when the COVID-19 disease reached my family in India in April 2020, when there were very few opportunities for prevention and treatment. All my years I have been working as a biochemistThe need for strong evidence and regular safety testing before using treatments, took a back seat as I wrestled with potential cures from every source I could find, sit down. scientific papers or fiction. I’m ready to try any test though Traditional medicine that may help my father.

Fortunately, my father recovered. I can’t say for sure if any traditional medicine we used helped him recover. But as one whose entire scientific career is focused on discovery new drugs from chemical compounds found in nature, I wondered if there was a gene in the traditional medicine we used that could be isolated and improved to treat COVID-19.

Scientists like me have been searching for new drugs for various diseases by purifying compounds in nature instead of synthesizing new ones in the lab. From COVID-19 DISEASE you vaccineI believe that past successes and new technologies show a great opportunity to develop new drugs from natural products.

Early drug development involved the search for medicinal plants. Scientists have since been able to isolate substances that provide medicinal properties to natural products, such as morphine in poppies.

Benefits of natural products

Humans have interacted with nature for a long time, and access to medicine may be one of the most important interactions people continue to have with nature. the natural world. A DNA test showed that Early humans may have treated tooth abscesses with poplar, containing the active ingredient of aspirin, and Penicillium mold, containing the antibiotic penicillin.

Researchers call organisms like those that give poplar and Penicillium their natural effects natural products because they are produced by living organisms such as microbes, fungi, corals and plants. These natural products have evolved to stay structurally” valid“to do special biological work, first to preventing predators or gaining survival advantage in a particular situation and against other competitors.

Because natural products are already made to work in living organisms, this makes them particularly attractive as a source of drug discovery. While proteins can vary in different organisms, many have such a system of features and functions across the species. This could help facilitate the discovery of functional proteins in humans.

Penicillin changed medicine.

Natural product hall of fame

Bioproducts derived from microorganisms and plants are a major source of drug discovery for modern medicine. For example, finding an antibiotic penicillin in 1940 from Penicillium mold allowed doctors to treat previously fatal diseases and ushered in the era of antibiotics.

As of September 2019, more than 50% Currently there are FDA approved drugs that are either directly or indirectly derived from natural products. One of the best-selling drugs of the past two decades, atorvastatin (Lipitor), an anti-cholesterol drug, is derived from a compound produced by a fungus. Penicillium citrinum. From 1992 to 2017, sales of atorvastatin in the United States ended 94.67 billion US dollars.

Some prominent examples of drugs derived from natural products that are currently in use include antifungal drugs amphotericin Bisolated from soil bacteria Streptomyces nodosuschemotherapy taxisolated from the bark of the Pacific yew tree, and an antibiotic cyclosporineisolated from the fungus Tolypocladium inflatum.

I believe that undiscovered treatments for many diseases are lying right under our noses in natural products. In January 2021, the FDA approved Voclosporin (Lupkynis)isolated from the fungus Tolypocladium inflatum, to treat lupus. Recently, researchers are checking cannabidiol and others cannabinoid compounds as a possible way to prevent or treat COVID-19. The FDA has not yet approved any CBD-containing medication for COVID-19.

As antibiotic resistance grows, developing new drugs and using existing ones responsibly becomes even more important.

Challenges in natural product discovery

Researchers are increasingly gaining access to new ones demonstration techniques and methods to isolate previously undiagnosed biological samples. Screening natural products usually involves screening a large library of products derived from natural sources. The Nature of Drug Discoverywhich I founded with my colleague David Sherman at the University of Michigan, for example, is looking for potential drug targets in a library containing about 50,000 biological samples that each contain 30 to 50 molecules to test.

However, drug discovery based on natural products is not without its challenges. Since the 1980s, natural products have fallen out of favor due to many challenges. These include the difficulty of obtaining cost-effective analytical methods, and limitations in technology that cannot fully analyze the chain of biological products. There are also biology and law, such as access to sustainable products and biodiversity conservation. Pharmaceutical companies have they have reduced natural product-based drug discovery programssame to you federal funding it is also in short supply due to low interest rates.

Find new drugs in nature

New drugs are often needed for unprecedented health emergencies like COVID-19. They are also needed for a health emergency that begins before the disease – antibiotic resistance.

IN September 2017 report from the World Health Organization reaffirms that antimicrobial resistance is a global health emergency that will hinder progress modern medicine. If current antibiotics lose their effectiveness, common treatment interventions like cesarean sections and cancer treatments can be incredibly dangerous. Transplantation can be almost impossible. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are the direct source 1.27 million people died in 2019. Only six drugs out of 18 micro-organisms that cause the threat of antibiotic resistance were estimated to be expensive more than 4.6 billion dollars per year only in America. The The COVID-19 pandemic has receded before continuing to address this issuewith a 15% increase in resistant infections from 2019 to 2020. In contrast, resistant infections decreased by 27% from 2012 to 2017. spike. use of antibioticsdifficulty following infection control protocols and length of hospital stay.

According to recent estimates, about 75% Antibiotics are believed to be derived from natural products. There is thousands of microorganisms in the ocean left to explore as possible ways to find drug seekers, not to mention all the ones below. In search of new drugs for war vaccine, natural products maybe it’s still the way to go.

Only 3 percent of the potential sources of antibiotics are known

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