Drug discovery prospect from untapped species: indications from approved natural product drugs

PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e39782. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039782. Epub 2012 Jul 11.


Due to extensive bioprospecting efforts of the past and technology factors, there have been questions about drug discovery prospect from untapped species. We analyzed recent trends of approved drugs derived from previously untapped species, which show no sign of untapped drug-productive species being near extinction and suggest high probability of deriving new drugs from new species in existing drug-productive species families and clusters. Case histories of recently approved drugs reveal useful strategies for deriving new drugs from the scaffolds and pharmacophores of the natural product leads of these untapped species. New technologies such as cryptic gene-cluster exploration may generate novel natural products with highly anticipated potential impact on drug discovery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Products / chemistry
  • Biological Products / isolation & purification*
  • Cyanobacteria / chemistry*
  • Cyanobacteria / genetics
  • Drug Approval
  • Drug Discovery / statistics & numerical data*
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Fungi / chemistry*
  • Fungi / genetics
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Property
  • Multigene Family
  • Plants / chemistry*
  • Plants / genetics


  • Biological Products