Marine natural products: a new wave of drugs?

Future Med Chem. 2011 Sep;3(12):1475-89. doi: 10.4155/fmc.11.118.


The largely unexplored marine world that presumably harbors the most biodiversity may be the vastest resource to discover novel 'validated' structures with novel modes of action that cover biologically relevant chemical space. Several challenges, including the supply problem and target identification, need to be met for successful drug development of these often complex molecules; however, approaches are available to overcome the hurdles. Advances in technologies such as sampling strategies, nanoscale NMR for structure determination, total chemical synthesis, fermentation and biotechnology are all crucial to the success of marine natural products as drug leads. We illustrate the high degree of innovation in the field of marine natural products, which in our view will lead to a new wave of drugs that flow into the market and pharmacies in the future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aquatic Organisms / chemistry*
  • Aquatic Organisms / metabolism
  • Biodiversity
  • Biological Products / chemical synthesis
  • Biological Products / chemistry*
  • Biological Products / pharmacology
  • Biotechnology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Fermentation
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / chemical synthesis
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / chemistry*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Biological Products
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations