Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 245–262 | Cite as

Medicinal and pharmaceutical uses of seaweed natural products: A review

  • Albertus J. Smit


In the last three decades the discovery of metabolites with biological activities from macroalgae has increased significantly. However, despite the intense research effort by academic and corporate institutions, very few products with real potential have been identified or developed. Based on Silverplatter MEDLINE and Aquatic Biology, Aquaculture & Fisheries Resources databases, the literature was searched for natural products from marine macroalgae in the Rhodophyta, Phaeophyta and Chlorophyta with biological and pharmacological activity. Substances that currently receive most attention from pharmaceutical companies for use in drug development, or from researchers in the field of medicine-related research include: sulphated polysaccharides as antiviral substances, halogenated furanones from Delisea pulchra as antifouling compounds, and kahalalide F from a species of Bryopsis as a possible treatment of lung cancer, tumours and AIDS. Other substances such as macroalgal lectins, fucoidans, kainoids and aplysiatoxins are routinely used in biomedical research and a multitude of other substances have known biological activities. The potential pharmaceutical, medicinal and research applications of these compounds are discussed.

biological activity macroalga medicine pharmaceuticals pharmacology seaweeds 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Albertus J. Smit
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Botany, UUniversity of Cape TownSouth Africa.

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