Novel Drug Source Materialadmin
Drugs derived from nature is not a new concept. Active compounds found in microorganisms and plants have helped human health for millennia, with or without synthetic modifications of modern science. Morphine for pain and codeine for coughs are examples of drugs derived from pharmacologically active molecules known as isoquinoline alkaloids. This group of plant metabolites has over 2500 types and are typically found in the poppy and barberry plants.
However, a new source of material has been discovered in a previously un-thought of place; fungus.
Researchers from Jena, Germany, along with their American colleagues uncovered the novel substances while studying the fungal genome. Prof. Dr. Dirk Hoffmeister and Prof. Dr. Axel Brakhage at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena have found that, similarly to plants, fungi can synthesize certain natural products. Specifically, the fungus Aspergillus fumigatus, making it an exciting new target for discovery of novel drugs. These previously unknown natural products have been named fumisoquins. Discovery of these new active compounds and their potential to treat diseases is exciting, but what else is exciting is how plants and fungi developed biosynthetic pathways for the complex molecules in parallel of each other.
“Fungi and plants diverged early on during evolution.” explains Axel Brakhage, university professor and head of the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology. “The newly discovered fumisoquin synthesis pathway shows that there was a parallel development for the production of isoquinoline alkaloid compounds in both groups of organisms. This opens up new roads for combinatorial biotechnology in order to advance the search for novel active compounds and thus to develop urgently needed new drugs.”
You can read more about the discovery here