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The Best Healer of Humanity Is Nature

By Yemi Olakitan

Throughout time, humans have co-evolved with the natural world, and one of the most significant interactions that humans still have with the natural world is medication.

Based on DNA analysis, it has been suggested that aspirin-containing poplar and penicillin-containing Penicillium mold may have been used by early humans to treat tooth abscesses.

Because these molecules are created by living things like bacteria, fungus, corals, and plants, they are referred to as natural products by researchers. Examples of these molecules include those that give poplar and Penicillium their biological effects.

According to research, these naturally occurring products have developed into structurally “optimised” forms that fulfil certain biological roles, mostly to ward off predators or get an edge over rivals in a given habitat.

Natural products are particularly appealing as a source for medication development since they are already designed to work in living things.

Even while proteins may appear differently in many animals, many of them share structural characteristics and functions that are comparable throughout species. This may facilitate the hunt for comparable proteins that function in humans.

As noted by scientists, the most valuable resource for contemporary medicine’s drug development process is natural compounds sourced from microorganisms and plants.

For example, the 1940 discovery of the antibiotic penicillin from Penicillium mould marked the beginning of the antibiotic era and enabled medical professionals to cure previously deadly illnesses.

More than half of FDA-approved medications on the market as of September 2019 are either directly or indirectly derived from natural ingredients.

The anti-cholesterol medication atorvastatin (Lipitor), one of the most popular medications of the last 20 years, is derived from a substance produced by the fungus Penicillium citrinum. Sales of atorvastatin in the United States from 1992 to 2017 amounted to US$94.67 billion, according to reports.

The antifungal amphotericin B, which was isolated from the soil bacteria Streptomyces nodosus, the chemotherapy taxol, which was isolated from the Pacific yew tree’s bark, and the immunosuppressive cyclosporin, which was isolated from the fungus Tolypocladium inflatum, are a few other well-known examples of modern medications derived from natural products.

I think that natural items contain unidentified cures for a variety of ailments that are lurking right under our eyes. Voclosporin (Lupkynis), which was isolated from the fungus Tolypocladium inflatum, was given FDA approval in January 2021 to treat lupus.

In an effort to prevent or cure COVID-19, researchers have recently focused on cannabidiol and other cannabis chemicals. Yet, the FDA has not approved any CBD-containing medication for COVID-19.

It is learnt that researchers are finding it easier and easier to extract hitherto unknown natural compounds via the use of novel screening technologies and techniques.

According to current estimates, natural products account for around 75% of the antibiotics that have been authorised. Naturally occurring products could still be the best option when looking for novel medications to tackle antibiotic resistance.


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