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Rediscovery of known natural compounds: nuisance or goldmine?
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Division of Pharmacognosy.
2005 (English)In: Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry, ISSN 0968-0896, E-ISSN 1464-3391, Vol. 13, no 17, 5274-5282 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Do all natural compounds have a distinct biological activity, or are most of them merely biosynthetic debris? Many natural compounds have important biological functions, and certainly many more of the ample 200,000 currently known will ultimately prove to be more than just 'secondary metabolites'. The question is how to select the most promising candidates for potential new drugs. 'Rediscovery' of known natural compounds is regarded as a nuisance or disappointment by scientists involved with the identification of novel compounds. The other side of the coin, however, is that the discovery that a particular compound occurs in unrelated species can be a valuable clue toward the identification of a novel receptor or enzyme. Here, we put forward the hypothesis that when a natural compound occurs in unrelated species, it must have an important biological function by interacting with a specific molecular target. This is because it is extremely improbable that in nature one particular compound is synthesized in totally unrelated species for no reason at all. For many compounds occurring in unrelated species, it is already known that they act on specific molecular targets. For others, it is just known that they occur in different species. In some cases, biological activities are known but not the underlying mechanisms of action. It is from this category of compounds that important discoveries are likely to be made. Some (around 70) of them were identified. They represent important clues from nature offering an alternative approach to the classical screening of large numbers of compounds.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2005. Vol. 13, no 17, 5274-5282 p.
Keyword [en]
Alcohols/chemistry, Aldehydes/chemistry, Alkanes/chemistry, Alkenes/chemistry, Amines/chemistry, Amino Acids/chemistry, Animals, Benzoquinones/chemistry, Biological Products/chemistry, Felidae, Pteridines/chemistry, Taste, Xanthines/chemistry
National Category
Pharmaceutical Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-102032DOI: 10.1016/j.bmc.2005.05.067PubMedID: 16019216OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-102032DiVA: diva2:213876
Available from: 2009-04-29 Created: 2009-04-29 Last updated: 2010-11-18Bibliographically approved

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