Traditional medicine patents lead to enhanced drug discovery from natural products


John Zabilski

Natural products have been used to relieve a variety of diseases and conditions for millennia.

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, noted that powder derived from the bark of a willow tree helped to relieve pain and headaches, and in the 1800s, chemists isolated the beneficial substance as salicylic acid and refined it by buffering sodium salicylate with acetyl chloride to create acetylsalicylic acid, or aspirin.

Nowadays, natural products are ripe for potential drug discovery and the life sciences sector is rich with traditional medicine patents. A growing reservoir of traditional medicine content is available, along with efficient and productive search methods for exploring it. John Zabilski explains.

Traditional medicine refers to the knowledge, skills and practices of maintaining health and treating physical and mental illness based on observations, beliefs and experiences indigenous to different cultures. In some Asian and African countries, traditional medicine is the primary means of healthcare for 80 percent of the population.

Traditional medicines and treatments are often employed as alternative or complementary therapies to modern medical treatments where they may have fewer side effects. Ginger, for example, is often recommended to safely relieve pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting. Traditional medicines may also provide effective alternatives for drug-resistant diseases. Drugs derived from traditional medicines have the added benefit of generally being less expensive to develop than synthetic drugs.

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