New Strategies for Evaluating Natural Products

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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Biological Screening of Herbal Drugs

The fundamental problem for chemists working on natural products used to be that of choosing which pharmacological principles and methods to use to understand the possible biological use of any given substance.


NEW STRATEGIES FOR EVALUATING NATURAL PRODUCTS

 

 

The fundamental problem for chemists working on natural products used to be that of choosing which pharmacological principles and methods to use to understand the possible biological use of any given substance.

 

The RICB (Reseau d’interaction chimie—Bioiogique or Chemical Biological Interaction Network) has come up with lots of objectives for helping the chemists as described below.

 

The RICB helps chemists by providing assistance from biologists, who use their knowledge and sophisticated methods of observation for the pharmacological activity of any given substance. Rather than the current classical procedure of observing an overall pharmacological effect (e.g. measurement of femoral artery blood flow in dogs), it is now possible to observe the effect of the substance on any one of the underlying components of the overall peripheral pharmacological effect (e.g. binding to α- or β-adrenergic receptors, or to angiotensin or vasopressin receptors, or the effect of posterior pituitary vasopressin). The RICB aids biologists by providing new tools for examining receptors, neuromediators, ion channels, and membrane-coupling mechanisms. It can thus be said that, thanks to deriva-tives of yohimbine (indole alkaloids from the Rubiaceae and Apocynaceae), the alpha-1 and alpha-2 subtypes of adrenergic receptors were distinguished. Likewise, for-skolin, a labdane diterpene, enabled progress to be made in understanding the adenylate cyclase system. Morphine, ouabain and tetrodotoxin are other examples of biological agents derived from the chemistry of natural materials. Biologists can also make use of the chemists’ extra skills in resolving certain problems at the frontiers of biology, such as extraction, labelling, and molecular modelling.

 

In general, the RICB has also provided a discussion forum for a collaboration between two disciplines that are relatively unfamiliar with each other and for developing new strategies in the evaluation of natural or synthetic substances. By using different animal models, the phyto-pharmacological potentials of different plant species, including Nelumbo nucifera and Leucas lavendulaefolia have been reported.

 

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