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Acta Pharm Sin B. 2017 Jul;7(4):409-426. doi: 10.1016/j.apsb.2017.05.001. Epub 2017 May 30.

Insects: an underrepresented resource for the discovery of biologically active natural products.

Author information

1
Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA.
2
Cancer Institute of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA.

Abstract

Nature has been the source of life-changing and -saving medications for centuries. Aspirin, penicillin and morphine are prime examples of Nature׳s gifts to medicine. These discoveries catalyzed the field of natural product drug discovery which has mostly focused on plants. However, insects have more than twice the number of species and entomotherapy has been in practice for as long as and often in conjunction with medicinal plants and is an important alternative to modern medicine in many parts of the world. Herein, an overview of current traditional medicinal applications of insects and characterization of isolated biologically active molecules starting from approximately 2010 is presented. Insect natural products reviewed were isolated from ants, bees, wasps, beetles, cockroaches, termites, flies, true bugs, moths and more. Biological activities of these natural products from insects include antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, anticancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects.

KEYWORDS:

Drug discovery; Entomotherapy; Insects; Natural products; Traditional medicine

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