Caithness Biotechnologies Harnessing Nature for drug discovery
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FAQ

1) Advantages
2) Novelty
3) Rationale
4) Intellectual property
5) Unique molecules
6) Hit-rate
7) Diversity
8) Resupply
9) Unextracted herbs
10) Extraction
11) Ethnic data
12) Screening
13) Shelf-life
14) Kit sizes
15) Separation
16) Human studies
17) Pre-fractionation
18) 'Frequent hitters'

 

 

Frequently asked questions

07) What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Phytotire plant extract library relative to larger plant extract libraries?

Most natural product libraries have been developed with the aim of capturing the greatest possible geographical and biochemical diversity and, as a result, are very large (thousands of extracts and hundreds of plates).

While this approach provides a good chance of identifying dozens of hits, the costs of screening such libraries, particularly in terms of labour, time and reagents, are far beyond the means of most small research groups.

Fortunately, it is now recognised that many phytochemicals are expressed widely across species of the same genus, and it has been shown that a broad sampling of biodiversity may not be essential for successful natural product-based drug discovery [1].

Indeed, a recent analysis of all alkaloids in medical use today showed that 93% of these molecules occurred more than 50 times in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) database, and only two had less than 10 occurences [2].

These observations indicate that an acceptable hit-rate may be obtained from modestly sized natural product libraries. The Phytotitre library has been carefully sized to optimally balance high molecular diversity and potential for lead discovery with appropriate workflow by independent research groups.

By focusing only on plants with a history of use as traditional medicines, or association with reduced risk of disease in human dietary and epidemiological studies, the Phytotitre library furthermore seeks to maximise the potential hit-rate per time and reagent input, while at the same time minimising risk of identifying molecules of excessive toxicity.

[1] Tulp M, Bohlin L. Functional versus chemical diversity: is biodiversity important for drug discovery? Trends Pharmacol Sci 5:225-231 (2002)
[2] Amirkia V, Heinrich M. Alkaloids as drug leads - a predictive structural and biodiversity-based analysis. Phytochem Lett 10:xlviii-liii (2014)

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