Author(s): SOUMYA PRAKASH ROUT, K A CHOUDARY, D M KAR, LOPAMUDRA DAS, AVIJEET JAIN
The approach to new drugs through natural products has proved to be the single most successful strategy for the discovery of new drugs, but in recent years its use has been deemphasized by many pharmaceutical companies in favor of approaches based on combinatorial chemistry and genomics, among others. Again with rapid industrialization of the planet and the loss of ethnic culture and customs, some of the information on ethnomedicine will no doubt disappear. An abundance of ethnomedical information on plant uses can be found in scientific literature but has not yet been compiled into a usable form. Collection of ethnomedical information especially in the developing countries remains primarily an academic endeavour of little interest to most industrial groups. This article reviews some of the past successes of the natural products approach and also explores some of the reasons why it has fallen out of favor among major pharmaceutical companies and the challenges in drug discovery from Natural Products especially Higher Plants. In this review we consider the past, present, and future value of employing information from plants used in traditional medical practices (ethnomedicine) for the discovery of new bioactive compounds.