Natural Products as Sources of New Drugs

Natural products traditionally have played a significant role in drug discovery. Over the past 25 years about 50 % of the drugs introduced to the market are derived directly or indirectly from small biogenic molecules. Natural product-derived drugs are also well presented in the top 35 worldwide selling ethical drug sales of 2000-2002. The present article is intended to review selected examples of recent natural product-based drug development, which have led to therapeutically useful agents either in current medical practice or in various stages of clinical trials. The presented compounds, taxol, camptothecins, galanthamine, the group of statins and ACE-inhibitors, dolastatins, epothilones and epibatidine clearly demonstrate that compounds from terrestrial and marine organisms and microorganisms provide many important drugs or drug candidates. In addition, compounds of natural origin represent a wide range of structural diversity, and often lead to the discovery of novel biological targets and pathways involved in the disease process.