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Pure Appl. Chem., 2001, Vol. 73, No. 3, pp. 595-599

Biodiversity conservation and drug discovery in Suriname. Explorations in nature's combinatorial library

David G. I. Kingston

Department of Chemistry, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA

Abstract: The preservation of tropical rain forests is an important goal both for the intrinsic value of their cultural and biological diversity and for the well-being of the forest peoples who make these forests their home. In addition, tropical forests are potential sources of new pharmaceutical products which can only be found by chemical prospecting in nature's genetically encoded combinatorial library. A collaborative program to discover potential pharmaceuticals in the rain forest of Suriname is described as part of an effort to integrate biodiversity conservation and drug discovery with economic development. Progress on this project will be reported, including results obtained on the isolation of bioactive diterpenoids, quinones, alkaloids, and polyketides, and the benefits of this general approach to biodiversity and drug discovery will be discussed.