Current strategies for drug discovery through natural products

Alan Harvey, Rachel Clark, Simon Mackay, Blair Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Importance to the field: Natural products are the most consistently successful source of drug leads, both historically and currently. Despite this, the use of natural products in industrial drug discovery has fallen out of favour. Natural products are likely to continue to be sources of new commercially viable drug leads because the chemical novelty associated with natural products is higher than that of any other source: this is particularly important when searching for lead molecules against newly discovered targets for which there are no known small molecule leads.

Areas to be covered: Current drug discovery strategies involving natural products are described in three sections: developments from traditionally used medicines, random testing of natural compounds on biological assays and use of virtual screening techniques with structures of natural products.

What the reader will gain: The reader will gain an insight into the potential for natural products in current drug discovery paradigms, particularly in the value of using natural products in virtual screening approaches.

Take home message: Drug discovery would be enriched if fuller use was made of the chemistry of natural products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-568
Number of pages10
JournalExpert Opinion on Drug Discovery
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • chemical diversity
  • convention on biological diversity
  • drug discovery
  • ethnopharmacology
  • natural products
  • traditional medicines
  • virtual screening

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