An aurora of natural products-based drug discovery is coming

Yaojun Tong, Zixin Deng

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Natural products (NPs), a nature's reservoir possessing enormous structural and functional diversity far beyond the current ability of chemical synthesis, are now proving themselves as most wonderful gifts from mother nature for human beings. Many of them have been used successfully as medicines, as well as the most important sources of drug leads, food additives, and many industry relevant products for millennia. Most notably, more than half of the antibiotics and anti-cancer drugs currently in use are, or derived from, natural products. However, the speed and outputs of NP-based drug discovery has been slowing down dramatically after the fruitful harvest of the “low-hanging fruit” during the golden age of 1950s-1960s. With recent scientific advances combining metabolic sciences and technology, multi-omics, big data, combinatorial biosynthesis, synthetic biology, genome editing technology (such as CRISPR), artificial intelligence (AI), and 3D printing, the “high-hanging fruit” is becoming more and more accessible with reduced costs. We are now more and more confident that a new age of natural products discovery is dawning.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSynthetic and Systems Biotechnology
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)92-96
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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