Current methods in natural products research
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University of Strathclyde
Dr. Veronique Seidel is a Senior Lecturer in Pharmacognosy at the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical...
Natural products are chemical substances that are synthesized by various living organisms (e.g. plants, microbes, marine animals, insects, amphibians) in response mainly to environmental pressures. The chemicals that are produced are highly diverse, often very complex molecules that have specifically been selected through evolution to interact with biological targets.
Such chemodiversity and complexity, notwithstanding the fact that natural products can occur in relatively low quantities in natural sources, can make the purification and identification of individual molecules very challenging. Standard methods of isolation and structure elucidation rely heavily on analytical tools such as chromatographic (e.g. high-performance liquid chromatography) and spectroscopic techniques (nuclear magnetic resonance, mass spectrometry), respectively.
Many purified natural products - and optimized structural analogs based on natural product templates - have demonstrated exciting activity when subjected to biological testing, either through random screening or bioassay-guided fractionation. This makes natural products a good source of new drug leads for the treatment of different diseases.
Recent developments in natural product research have included the use of metabolomics approaches to identify and quantify a set of metabolites within a given natural producer and the use of computational tools such as molecular docking (in-silico screening) to predict the interactions between natural products and a given biological target.
This method collection will focus on classical and novel methodologies used in the isolation, characterization, and biological testing of natural products and will provide some interesting insights into the future of natural products research.