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Medical News & Perspectives
June 3, 1998

Nature's Agents Help Heal Humans— Some Now Take Steps to Reciprocate

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JAMA. 1998;279(21):1679-1681. doi:10.1001/jama.279.21.1679

FROM EARLIEST recorded time animals, plants, sea life, and microbes have been known as sources of drugs beneficial to human health. They still are. But human modification of ecosystems and the resulting loss of species diversity threaten these resources.

Therapeutically useful agents have recently been developed from natural sources:

These are just 3 examples. "Of 520 new chemical entities approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or other nations' drug regulatory agencies over the past 14 years for treating diseases, from athlete's foot to zoonoses, almost 50% have a natural product in their background," said David J. Newman, PhD, speaking at a symposium on the value of plants, animals, and microbes to human health held at the Museum of Natural History in New York, NY, last month. Newman is a microbial chemist in the Natural Products Division of the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.

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