Modificaton of Inactive Natural Products by Suitable Biological/Chemical Means into Potent Drugs

2.4 Modificaton of Inactive Natural Products by Suitable Biological/Chemical Means into Potent Drugs
This particular role of natural products is not only distinctly different from the rest, as discussed in section 2.1 through section 2.3, but also has its prime importance by virtue of the fact that certain constituents present in them do not exhibit any significant biological activity or chemical means surprisingly give rise to quite effective and potent drugs that are not easily obtainable by other known methods.
The following examples will expatiate the above facts squarely:
1. Vitamin* A from—carotene (isolation from carrots i.e., Dacus carota)

2. Taxol by conversation of 10–Dasacetylbaccatin III (Isolated from the needles of Taxus
10–Dasacetylbaccatin III Synthetic Route ->Taxol (see Table 1.3)
Taxol is an antineoplastic agent invariably used in breast cancer.
3. Progesterone and Pregnenolone by conversion of Diosgenin (aglycone of Saponin Dioscin from Dioscorea tokoro Makino):

* 2 Moles of RETINOL are produced from 1 mole of d-b-Carotene which acts as a precursor of the former.

4. Hydrocortisone and Corticosterone from Stigmasteol (occurs abundantly as Phytosterol Mixture from Soyabeans and Calabar Beans)

In addition to the Third World nations, the technologically advanced countries like the United States have experienced a phenomenal change towards the acceptance of herbal medicines over the expanded OTC usages of such drugs. It is believed that in the Twenty First Century a quantum leap forward would be distinctly seen in the world pharmaceutical market. A few such projection of pharmaceutical products by the year 2001 may be glanced as detailed below:

It may appear to be quite realistic and amazing that in the near future about 50% of the healthymarket-share would be captured legitimately by drugs belonging to the natural origin.
It is not out of place to assert that on one hand science is advancing in a tremendous logarithmic progression towards gene-synthesis, rocket-fuels, super computers, electronic cash-transaction across the globe, fax machine, paperless offices, modern analytical computer-aided instruments, auto analysers for routine industrial analysis for on-going chemical and biological processes and final products metioulously designed and skillfully formulated life-saving drugs; while on the other hand the confidence of the people being restored at a steady pace towards the ancient herbal drugs right from the treatment of constipation to management and control of malignancies in human beings. Of course, the so-called ‘Crude-Drugs’ are presently available in well refined and latest state-ofthe-art packings as over the counter (OTC) drugs through chemists and druggists and super markets across the world. Perhaps that day is not too far when a common person will be tempted to grow medicinal plant in the kitchen garden rather than growing spring onions, lettuce, cucumber and french beans for their daily needs. It is a pity that the inhabitants of the modern society is virtually over-loaded by the usage of tonnes of chemicals used in the form of medicines for the cure of various ailments.

Ashutosh Kar (2003), Pharmacognosy and Pharmaco biotechnology, 2nd Edition
‘Handbook of Medicinal Herbs’ (2001), J.A. Duke, CRC-Press, London, 1st Edn.
William Charles Evans (2002), Trease and Evans Pharmacognosy 15th Edition by: Trease, Bailliere Tindall; Evans.
Ramstad (1956), E., ‘Modern Pharmacognosy’, McGraw Hill, London.

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