Chemical diversity of Malaysian flora: potential source of rich therapeutic chemicals
Rahmani, Mawardi (2003) Chemical diversity of Malaysian flora: potential source of rich therapeutic chemicals.
Although people all over the world has been using various kind of plant species as medicine for the treatment of diseases since millennia, the isolation and identification of the active principals were only achieved in the 19th century. This can be considered the beginning of remarkable achievements in the discovery of therapeutic agents from plants. Some of these early discoveries are the isolation of morphine from Papaver somniferum, aneasthetic cocaine from Erythroxylum coca, antimalarial quinine from Cinchona officinalis etc. Numerous other therapeutic molecules have been discovered since and the general health of the world population improved dramatically, the search for new drugs from plants, microorganisms and marine source continued until today. With the availability of modern techniques, instrumentations and advancement in scientific knowledge have led to faster phase of discovery of therapeutic chemicals with wide ranged of structural types. It has been estimated that less than 1% of plant species has been examined in detailed for their therapeutic potential and currently about 120 pharmaceutical products in used are derived from plants and 75% of these were discovered from plants used in traditional medicine. In this presentation we will look into the diversity of chemicals isolated and fully characterized from our own rich Malaysian tropical flora. Amongst the various type of natural products identified are the many classes of alkaloidsi lignans, terpenoids, sulphur-containing compounds, flavonoids, xanthones, glycosides, chalcones etc. Particular attention was made on certain genus of plants from the Rutaceae family (lemon family) due to the presence of interesting chemical structures and exhibiting good biological activity. From the various types of compounds identified, certain classes of alkaloids, coumarins and sulphur containing compounds have shown excellent antimicrobial and anticancer activity against various cancer cell lines. With the availability of high-throughput screening tests for bioassay-guided fractionation and combinatorial synthesis toot natural product from plant source particularly from tropical plants, will continue to supply banks of compounds for future drug developments.
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