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Pure Appl. Chem., 2005, Vol. 77, No. 11, pp. 1923-1942

International collaboration in drug discovery and development from natural sources

Gordon M. Cragg and David J. Newman

Natural Products Branch, Developmental Therapeutics Program, Suite 206, Fairview Center, NCI-Frederick, P.O. Box B, Frederick, MD 21702-1201, USA

Abstract: Nature has been a source of medicinal agents for thousands of years, and an impressive number of modern drugs have been isolated from natural sources, particularly plants, with many based on their use in traditional medicine. The past century, however, has seen an increasing role played by microorganisms in the production of the antibiotics and other drugs for the treatment of serious diseases, and more recently, marine organisms have proved to be a rich source of novel bioactive agents. Natural products will continue to play a crucial role in meeting this demand through the expanded investigation of the world's biodiversity, much of which remains unexplored. By using medicinal chemistry, and combinatorial chemical and biosynthetic technology, novel natural product leads will be optimized on the basis of their biological activities to yield effective chemotherapeutic and other bioactive agents. With much of the biological diversity found in tropical and subtropical regions, the investigation of these resources requires multidisciplinary international collaboration in the discovery and development process. Such collaboration can result in substantial short-term benefits accruing to source countries, with the potential for the generation of significant longer-term benefits in the select cases of those agents that proceed into advanced development, and possible commercialization.