Snowdrops have long been known to relieve headaches, but now research suggests they may also play a role in delaying dementia. In the 1950s, researchers extracted a natural alkaloid called galantamine from the bulbs of snowdrops. Since then, scientists have experimented with the chemical synthesis of galanthamine and its use as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease. Scientists also believe that snowdrops might be used as a treatment for AIDS, so their effects are being studied.
However, overharvesting has left many varieties of snowdrops in jeopardy. In fact, many plants have medicinal value, providing rich resources and reference chemical synthesis methods for the development of new drugs. However, over-harvesting of wild medicinal plants destroys biodiversity and prevents future use of medicines from nature. "We're at a time when we need these plants the most and we have to risk losing them," said Cassandra Kuviv, a medicinal botanist and associate professor at Emory University.
| | plant medicinal history
For a long time, man has turned to nature to cure disease. A 5,000-year-old clay tablet in Nagpur, India, mentions more than 250 plants used to treat diseases, the earliest written record of medicinal plants. The medicinal properties of willow bark were found thousands of years ago in China and ancient Egypt, in medical texts and in papyrus ebers documents dating back 3,500 years. Aspirin is now derived from willow bark.
Lead researcher Melanie Jayne Howes, of biochemistry at Kew Gardens in London, said: "Artemisinin and its derivatives have played a key role in the fight against malaria and have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.
| | help of medicine
Penicillin, morphine and some of the most effective cancer chemotherapy drugs come from nature, while the most deadly diseases, such as cancer and heart disease, are often treated by plants and fungi. According to the World Health Organization, 11 percent of the world's essential medicines come from flowering plants.
In June 2021, scientists isolated a molecule from the leaves of European chestnut that neutralizes drug-resistant staphylococcus. They hope to synthesize a drug to treat MRSA infections. "Around 700,000 people worldwide die each year from ANTIMICROBIAL resistant infections," Kuviv said. By 2050, that number could rise to 10 million. I firmly believe that nature is the key to addressing these and other emerging health threats."
| | the deep sea
Microalgae, also known as diatoms, have porous cell walls that allow them to be used as vectors for delivering drugs into the body. Experts are studying how microalgae can be used in immunotherapy and combination therapy to treat cancer.
Every corner of the planet could harbor drugs: Sloths fungi can destroy parasites and bacteria in the hair even treat cancer, snake venom derived drugs to treat heart disease, imitation of barnacle glue developed new adhesive can make wounds heal quickly, inspired by sharkskin of antibacterial material can be used to make deep wound dressings, on the basis of the mechanism research and development of mosquito bites hypodermic needle is expected to achieve painless injection. In addition, scientists have discovered a Marine microbe 2,000 meters deep that may be used to treat aggressive brain cancer.
The value of insects | |
Ross Piper is an entomologist and zoologist who is a visiting researcher at the University of Leeds. He believes there is a limited understanding of the potential medicinal value of biological groups. "There are probably over a million species of insects that we know about, but millions more are unknown. Every time a habitat disappears from the map, the world's unique species quietly passes away." He said.
Because of the sheer number of insects, it is often difficult to target samples for medicinal potential. The venom of a Brazilian wasp called Polybia paulista was found to be used in targeted therapies to destroy cancer cells. But insects are difficult to grow in captivity, and their small size makes it difficult to extract enough material for medicinal purposes. Fortunately, scientists now have the technology to extract enough DNA from just a few individuals.
It is urgent to explore the chemical power contained in plants scientifically and rationally.
| | to protect the future
These wild animals and plants may have been lost before we realized their medicinal value. Environmental pollution, overexploitation, invasive species, land use change, urbanization and agricultural activities are the main causes of biodiversity loss. The question of whether biodiversity loss, like climate change, could become a threat to all mankind is one of widespread concern among experts.
"There are only a few species that humans can grasp and exploit," Howes said. "Most plants and fungi produce chemicals that are too complex to be synthesized. Vincristine, for example, which is used to treat childhood leukaemia, has to be extracted from plants."
Species are disappearing thousands or even thousands of times faster than the natural rate of extinction itself. According to WWF, wildlife populations have declined by more than two-thirds in less than 50 years. The International Union for Conservation of Nature says one-third of the world's species are at risk of extinction.
Surging demand for natural medicines is an important factor in biodiversity loss, according to a 2020 report by Kew Gardens. Overhunting and logging have worsened the situation of many species: the American horseshoe crab is listed as vulnerable; Tricylimus is extinct in Taiwan, China. Pacific Yew, an important source of the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel, is threatened with extinction and is listed as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
"Getting enough paclitaxel for clinical use would require cutting down thousands of Pacific yew trees," Says Howes. She believes we should delve deeper into phytochemistry so that medicines can be sustainably extracted from nature. Howes explains: "The biosynthesis mechanisms by which plants and fungi produce chemicals are now better understood, and biological vectors can be used for chemical synthesis, such as yeast cell factories, to reduce the need for wildlife. So far, this method has been successfully used in artemisinin production and has greatly increased the yield."
"Advances in science and technology are helping us discover new molecules and new synthetic ideas from nature, and finding sustainable solutions from them, which are key to addressing global health challenges," House and Kuvev, along with many other scientists, wrote in a recent report. In an article about plants creating the antibiotics of the future, Kuviv wrote: "It is urgent to discover the chemical power of plants in a scientific way."