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Although natural product discovery is a time investment, as one would have to screen many samples for activity in the context of many disorders, the success of discovery is highly promising. The synthesis of natural molecules in living organisms comes at a high metabolic and genetic cost, such that, all molecules in an organism are under high evolutionary pressure to be bioactive or to be eliminated altogether. Evolution serves as a natural means to edit molecules to most optimally pair with their targets.
Drug development focuses on identifying molecules that most optimally interact with specific targets in a disease in order to either activate, inactivate, or otherwise modulate the target. By identifying natural molecules that have been optimized under evolutionary pressure to interact with these targets, we can isolate natural products that are already active and typically require minimal additional modifications. Only 10% of the world’s biodiversity has been evaluated for potential medicinal purposes. The remaining 90% of products, some of which have been historically used by our ancestors for various human ailments, have not reached the benches of scientists. In addition, many currently available naturally-occurring products have been tested only within the context of particular diseases, but may be found to be useful for other disease states.


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