Natural products as antiparasitic drugs
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Natural products are not only the basis for traditional or ethnic medicine. Only recently, they have provided highly successful new drugs such as Artemisinin. Furthermore, screening natural products found in all sorts of environments such as the deep sea, rain forests and hot springs, and produced by all sorts of organisms ranging from bacteria, fungi and plants to protozoa, sponges and invertebrates, is a highly competitive field where all of the major pharmaceutical companies are encountered. Already, many new natural product groups have revealed antiparasitic properties of surprising efficacy and selectivity, as will be shown in this review for plant-derived alkaloids, terpenes and phenolics. Many novel lead structures, however, have severe chemico-physical drawbacks such as poor solubility. Here, innovative drug formulations and carrier systems might help, as discussed by the authors in another article of this series.