Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine

: 2018  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-

Rediscovering the drug discovery with natural products as therapeutic tools

Arun H S. Kumar 
 Editor in Chief, Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

Correspondence Address:
Arun H S. Kumar
Editor in Chief, Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine, University College Dublin, Dublin

How to cite this article:
S. Kumar AH. Rediscovering the drug discovery with natural products as therapeutic tools.J Nat Sc Biol Med 2018;9:1-1

How to cite this URL:
S. Kumar AH. Rediscovering the drug discovery with natural products as therapeutic tools. J Nat Sc Biol Med [serial online] 2018 [cited 2019 Feb 17 ];9:1-1
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Natural products are widely used globally in various formats for preventive and therapeutic health care. Although the use of natural products for several health conditions is supported by only a limited number of rigorous scientific tests, they continue to be used by majority of the population due to extensive trust in them imparted by time-tested traditional medicine practices and folklore. Natural products have also severed as foundations to the development of many currently used synthetic drugs. The expansion of synthetic drugs industry had such an enormous commercial and health gains that it eventually became the mainstream of drug discovery, with exclusive focus on active ingredient-based approach. This target and target-unlock/lock-based approach has been the paradigm of therapeutics for the past several decades with variable outcomes. Such an approach was also a considerable deviation from the traditional medicine practices, which used natural products in a combinatorial way with multiple active/inactive ingredients, which would most likely be influencing multiple targets and in most cases achieving better outcomes. Despite natural products being preamble to drug discovery, they never became the mainstream of therapeutics, probably due to commercial, technical, resourcing, and logistic factors.

The advancement of medical research has continued to unravel multiple nonspecific targets for several synthetic drugs. In similar lines, the scope of natural products has expanded from plant-based compounds to active ingredients derived from marine, exotic, and more recently microbial organisms. These advancements together with our understanding of complex micropathology of various diseases are relaunching natural products into the drug discovery pipeline. With multiple targets being affected by a disease, it is imperative that multiple active ingredients will be required for therapeutics, which aligns with the age-old traditional medicine practices. A holistic approach will, in any case, be superior over a single active ingredient-based approach. Adopting a holistic approach into the mainstream will require considerable refinement to the current drug discovery process, specifically in the area of formulations, suitable test models, and target validation approaches. Furthermore, collaborative efforts will be necessary between naturopaths and allopaths to achieve optimal benefits from natural product-based therapeutics.

Regenerative medicine is yet another area wherein the potential of natural products is untapped. Several natural product-based compounds have been reported to mobilize stem cells, a feature which could be potentially used for therapeutics. The regenerative potential of various natural products is also described in ancient texts. On another note, stem cells can also be viewed as natural products, thus further expanding the therapeutic profile of natural products. The clinical potential of stem cell therapy is extensively explored worldwide both under-regulated and unregulated environment. Several of these clinical trials have established the safety of using certain types of stem cells although with minimal to moderate efficacy. It will be interesting to see if natural products can show synergistic effects with stem cells to enhance their therapeutic potential. Such synergistic behavior will substantially enhance the role; natural products could play in the drug discovery pipeline. Hence, research in this area is highly envisaged to evolve better therapeutic strategies.


Arun H. S. Kumar