Heilpflanzen-Welt - Die Welt der Heilpflanzen!
Heilpflanzen-Welt - Natürlich natürlich!
October 2021

Lakartidningen. 1997 Dec; 94(51-52): 4938-41.

[An entire rain forest can be screened at pharmaceutical industry's laboratories]

Rosell S.

Astra, Södertlje.

The pharmaceutical industry has long been heavily reliant on natural products, and today more than half of the twenty best-selling pharmaceuticals are derived from natural sources. Hitherto sample collection from fauna and flora has been based on an ethnobotanical approach involving traditional healers and oral histories of indigenous peoples as sources of information on folk uses of plants and organisms. In the future, however, random sampling combined with automated high-throughput screening (HTS) may come to the forefront in drug design, enabling extensive libraries of active compounds to be built up, and rendering local knowledge largely irrelevant. New technological advances in chemistry, molecular biology and data processing are combined in automated systems whereby HTS, based on bioassay-guided fractionation procedures, is used to isolate active compounds, and enabling the chemical structure of isolated compounds to be determined within 24 hours. The combination of the speed of HTS, and a remarkable decrease in the amount of sample required for the isolation and structure determination of natural compounds, has improved our ability to find unique natural products for drug development. Moreover, it has already been demonstrated that, owing to the relatively minute amounts of material required for HTS, this random sampling approach to bioprospecting for the purposes of drug will benefit efforts to conserve such sensitive biosystems as the rain forests and marine ecosystems. Thus, this technology would seem to be more compatible with the needs of modern drug design in the pharmaceutical industry that the ethnobotanical approach.

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