“Silver Bullet” Drugs vs. Traditional Herbal Remedies:
Perspectives on Malaria"
~ By Kevin Spelman, PhD
The hunt for active constituents in plants–the so called "silver bullets" that characterize modern, single chemical entity drugs—is just over 2 centuries old. This method of drug development, which emphasizes chemical simplicity, has resulted in important—but sometimes temporary—treatment options. Multi-component remedies have often been neglected by researchers in favor of silver bullet drugs, due to difficulties in understanding their activity, biases within the medical establishment, and other factors. Some research indicates, however, that chemically-complex mixtures can be safer and more effective than single isolates, and they may also be less likely to result in drug resistance. With multidrug resistance becoming a leading obstacle to curing malaria and protecting against infection, it is critical both to understand the history of analytical chemistry as it has impacted the modern view on antimalarial drugs and to reevaluate the potential of using multi-compound treatments such as herbal remedies. [read more]
Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods in Health Promotion and Disease
~ by Fereidoon Shahidi, Department of Biochemistry, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada
Based on Keynote presentation at IUFoST Conference held in conjunction with Fi Asia/China, Shanghai, March 2007.
Epidemiological and clinical studies have demonstrated the relationship between diet and health status. It is well known that populations consuming a large proportion of plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and cereals or those with a high intake of seafood, have a lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancer. Therefore, interest has been expressed in functional foods, nutraceuticals and dietary supplements. Functional foods are defined as being similar in appearance to conventional foods, are consumed as part of a usual diet, and are known to improve health status and render physiological effects beyond basic nutritional function expected of conventional foods. However, nutraceuticals are products produced from foods, but sold in the medicinal form of capsule, tablet, powder, solution, or potion. They are not generally associated with food and have demonstrated physiological benefits and/or provide protection against chronic diseases; these are now referenced as “natural health products” in Canada. Thus, the optimum well-being expected to be rendered by functional foods and nutraceuticals in the short term is to provide a disease-free life with the same span as is currently the case. The long-term goals may include expanding of a healthy life span beyond its current limits.
In the case of plant foods, phenolics and polyphenolics constitute a main group of compounds that render beneficial effects, in part, due to their antioxidant potential, among other mechanisms of action. For marine oils, their omega-3 fatty acid constituents are known to affect health status by influencing eicosanoid metabolism or by other mechanisms. The highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFAs) present in marine oils are responsible for their many beneficial effects. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; C22:6n-3) is indeed a major fatty acid constituent of the gray matter of the brain and the retina of the eye, among others (Shahidi and Finley 2001). The organs most influenced by long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are those with electrical activity such as the brain, the heart and the eye.
This article provides a cursory account of nutraceuticals and functional foods with emphasis on phenolics and polyphenolics as well as the omega-3 fatty acids. [read more]
J. Nat. Prod. 2007, 70, 461-477
Natural Products as Sources of New Drugs over the Last 25 Years
David J. Newman* and Gordon M. Cragg
Natural Products Branch, Developmental Therapeutics Program, Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis, National Cancer Institute-Frederick, P.O. Box B, Frederick, Maryland 21702
This review is an updated and expanded version of two prior reviews that were published in this journal in 1997 and 2003. In the case of all approved agents the time frame has been extended to include the 251/2 years from 01/1981 to 06/2006 for all diseases worldwide and from 1950 (earliest so far identified) to 06/2006 for all approved antitumor drugs worldwide. We have continued to utilize our secondary subdivision of a “natural product mimic” or “NM” to join the original primary divisions. From the data presented, the utility of natural products as sources of novel structures, but not necessarily the final drug entity, is still alive and well. Thus, in the area of cancer, over the time frame from around the 1940s to date, of the 155 small molecules, 73% are other than “S” (synthetic), with 47% actually being either natural products or directly derived therefrom. In other areas, the influence of natural product structures is quite marked with, as expected from prior information, the antiinfective area being dependent on natural products and their structures. Although combinatorial chemistry techniques have succeeded as methods of optimizing structures and have, in fact, been used in the optimization of many recently approved agents, we are able to identify only one de noVo combinatorial compound approved as a drug in this 25 plus year time frame. We wish to draw the attention of readers to the rapidly evolving recognition that a significant number of natural product drugs/leads are actually produced by microbes and/or microbial interactions with the “host from whence it was isolated”, and therefore we consider that this area of natural product research should be expanded significantly.
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