Concept: Natural products
Medicinal plants have historically proven their value as a source of molecules with therapeutic potential, and nowadays still represent an important pool for the identification of novel drug leads. In the past decades, pharmaceutical industry focused mainly on libraries of synthetic compounds as drug discovery source. They are comparably easy to produce and resupply, and demonstrate good compatibility with established high throughput screening (HTS) platforms. However, at the same time there has been a declining trend in the number of new drugs reaching the market, raising renewed scientific interest in drug discovery from natural sources, despite of its known challenges. In this survey, a brief outline of historical development is provided together with a comprehensive overview of used approaches and recent developments relevant to plant-derived natural product drug discovery. Associated challenges and major strengths of natural product-based drug discovery are critically discussed. A snapshot of the advanced plant-derived natural products that are currently in actively recruiting clinical trials is also presented. Importantly, the transition of a natural compound from a “screening hit” through a “drug lead” to a “marketed drug” is associated with increasingly challenging demands for compound amount, which often cannot be met by re-isolation from the respective plant sources. In this regard, existing alternatives for resupply are also discussed, including different biotechnology approaches and total organic synthesis. While the intrinsic complexity of natural product-based drug discovery necessitates highly integrated interdisciplinary approaches, the reviewed scientific developments, recent technological advances, and research trends clearly indicate that natural products will be among the most important sources of new drugs also in the future.
Phytoestrogens constitute an attractive research topic due to their estrogenic profile and their biological involvement in woman’s health. Therefore, numerous studies are currently performed in natural products chemistry area aiming at the discovery of novel phytoestrogens. The main classes of phytoestrogens are flavonoids (flavonols, flavanones), isoflavonoids (isoflavones, coumestans), lignans, stilbenoids as well as miscellaneous chemical groups abundant in several edible and/or medicinal plants, belonging mostly to the Leguminosae family. As for other bioactives, the detection of new structures and more potent plant-derived phytoestrogens typically follows the general approaches currently available in the natural product discovery process. Plant-based approaches selected from traditional medicine knowledge and bioguided concepts are routinely employed. However, these approaches are associated with serious disadvantages such as time-consuming, repeated, and labor intensive processes as well as lack of specificity and reproducibility. In recent years, the natural products chemistry became more technology-driven, and several different strategies have been developed. Structure-oriented procedures and miniaturized approaches employing advanced hyphenated analytical platforms have recently emerged. They facilitate significantly not only the discovery of novel phytoestrogens but also the dereplication procedure leading to the anticipation of major drawbacks in natural products discovery. In this review, apart from the traditional concepts followed in phytochemistry for the discovery of novel biologically active compounds, recent applications in the field of extraction, analysis, fractionation, and identification of phytoestrogens will be discussed. Moreover, specific methodologies combining identification of actives and biological evaluation in parallel, such as liquid chromatography-biochemical detection, frontal affinity chromatography-mass spectrometry and pulsed ultrafiltration-MS will also be presented. Finally, miniaturized methods (microchip and biosensor) will be also discussed.With the current review, we attempt to give a wide and holistic overview of the different approaches which could be employed in the discovery of new phytoestrogens. On the other hand, we anticipate to attract more scientists to the area of phytoestrogens and to indicate the need of multidisciplinary concepts.
Marine natural products (MNPs) are recognized for their structural complexity, diversity, and novelty. The vast majority of MNPs are pharmacologically relevant through their ability to modulate macromolecular targets underlying human diseases. Angiogenesis is a fundamental process in cancer progression and metastasis. Targeting angiogenesis through selective modulation of linked protein kinases is a valid strategy to discover novel effective tumor growth and metastasis inhibitors. An in-house marine natural products mini-library, which comprises diverse MNP entities, was submitted to the Lilly’s Open Innovation Drug Discovery platform. Accepted structures were subjected to in vitro screening to discover mechanistically novel angiogenesis inhibitors. Active hits were subjected to additional angiogenesis-targeted kinase profiling. Some natural and semisynthetic MNPs, including multiple members of the macrolide latrunculins, the macrocyclic oxaquinolizidine alkaloid araguspongine C, and the sesquiterpene quinone puupehenone, showed promising results in primary and secondary angiogenesis screening modules. These hits inhibited vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-mediated endothelial tube-like formation, with minimal cytotoxicity at relevant doses. Secondary kinase profiling identified six target protein kinases, all involved in angiogenesis signaling pathways. Molecular modeling and docking experiments aided the understanding of molecular binding interactions, identification of pharmacophoric epitopes, and deriving structure-activity relationships of active hits. Marine natural products are prolific resources for the discovery of chemically and mechanistically unique selective antiangiogenic scaffolds.
The first total synthesis of the dimeric berberine alkaloid ilicifoline (ilicifoline B) is reported. Its carbon skeleton is constructed from ferulic acid, veratrole, and methanol. The synthesis reported herein employs starting materials solely derived from wood. The natural product is thus constructed entirely from renewable resources. The same strategy is applied to a formal total synthesis of morphinan alkaloids. The use of wood-derived building blocks (xylochemicals) instead of the conventional petrochemicals represents a sustainable alternative to classical synthetic approaches.
Palladium-catalyzed cyclization of imines has been developed to construct the extremely rare 3H-pyrrolo[2,3-c]quinoline ring system for diversity oriented first total synthesis of antimalarial marine natural product Aplidiopsamine A as well as synthesis of Marinoquinoline A and potential natural product hybrid NCLite-M1.
Natural products have been a rich source of compounds for drug discovery. However, their use has diminished in the past two decades, in part because of technical barriers to screening natural products in high-throughput assays against molecular targets. Here, we review strategies for natural product screening that harness the recent technical advances that have reduced these barriers. We also assess the use of genomic and metabolomic approaches to augment traditional methods of studying natural products, and highlight recent examples of natural products in antimicrobial drug discovery and as inhibitors of protein-protein interactions. The growing appreciation of functional assays and phenotypic screens may further contribute to a revival of interest in natural products for drug discovery.
This work assesses the current instrumentation, method development, and applications in countercurrent chromatography (CCC) and centrifugal partition chromatography (CPC), collectively referred to as countercurrent separation (CCS). The article provides a critical review of the CCS literature from 2007 since our last review (J. Nat. Prod. 2008, 71, 1489-1508), with a special emphasis on the applications of CCS in natural products research. The current state of CCS is reviewed in regard to three continuing topics (instrumentation, solvent system development, theory) and three new topics (optimization of parameters, workflow, bioactivity applications). The goals of this review are to deliver the necessary background with references for an up-to-date perspective of CCS, to point out its potential for the natural product scientist, and thereby to induce new applications in natural product chemistry, metabolome, and drug discovery research involving organisms from terrestrial and marine sources.
Fragment-based ligand and drug discovery predominantly employs sp(2)-rich compounds covering well-explored regions of chemical space. Despite the ease with which such fragments can be coupled, this focus on flat compounds is widely cited as contributing to the attrition rate of the drug discovery process. In contrast, biologically validated natural products are rich in stereogenic centres and populate areas of chemical space not occupied by average synthetic molecules. Here, we have analysed more than 180,000 natural product structures to arrive at 2,000 clusters of natural-product-derived fragments with high structural diversity, which resemble natural scaffolds and are rich in sp(3)-configured centres. The structures of the cluster centres differ from previously explored fragment libraries, but for nearly half of the clusters representative members are commercially available. We validate their usefulness for the discovery of novel ligand and inhibitor types by means of protein X-ray crystallography and the identification of novel stabilizers of inactive conformations of p38α MAP kinase and of inhibitors of several phosphatases.
Natural products offer a wide range of biological activities, but they are not easily integrated in the drug discovery pipeline, beacuse of their inherent scaffold intricacy and the associated complexity in their synthetic chemistry. Enzymes may be used to perform regioselective and stereoselective incorporation of functional groups in the natural product core, avoiding harsh reaction conditions, several protection/deprotection and purification steps.
Polyketide synthases (PKSs) are one of the most profound biosynthetic factories for producing polyketides with diverse structures and biological activities. These enzymes have been historically studied and engineered to make un-natural polyketides for drug discovery, and have also recently been explored for synthesizing biofuels and industrial chemicals due to their versatility and customizability. Here, we review recent advances in the mechanistic understanding and engineering of modular PKSs for producing polyketide-derived chemicals, and provide perspectives on this relatively new application of PKSs.