Natural Product Drug Discovery Revival?

Are we witnessing a turning point associated with revival of natural products as a drug discovery source?

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After decades of decreased interest in natural product drug discovery by the pharmaceutical industry, the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was given to scientists who profoundly contributed to the successful pharmaceutical development of two natural products, Avermectin and Artemisinin. Recent publication trend analysis also indicates a sharp increase of the scientific interest in the research area of natural product drug discovery ( On the background of these observations, it is very exciting to follow future developments that will show whether we are witnessing a turning point associated with re-evaluation of the value of natural molecules as a drug discovery source.

Go to the profile of Atanas G. Atanasov

Atanas G. Atanasov

Professor and Head of Molecular Biology Department, IGAB PAS


Go to the profile of Niclas Nilsson
Niclas Nilsson over 4 years ago

Indeed, we have (yet again) come to realize that Natural Products (NP) hold great promise for innovative medicine. But we've learned from the past and are better geared to handle this opportunity.
One such example is the use of robust phenotypic in vitro assay instead of applying NP-based compound libraries in target-based screening campaigns. This way we foremost look for relevant pharmacological effects, and the mode-of-action is secondary.
Another important factor is the improved link between ethnobotany and traditional pharmaceutical drug research (e.g. the MedPlant project, ), i.e. the whole process from natural products identified in field, linking to actual medicinal use and understanding of key factors driving Pharma R&D.

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Atanas G. Atanasov about 3 years ago

A video summarizing the importance of PPARgamma as a target of natural products in the context of metabolic disease is available at: