Throughout our evolution, the importance of natural products for medicine and health has been enormous. In fact, it has only been during the past decades that natural products have taken a secondary role in drug discovery and development. The past few years, however, have seen a renewed interest in the use of natural compounds and, more importantly, their role as a basis for drug development. The advent of molecular biology and combinatorial chemistry made possible the rational design of chemical compounds to target specific molecules. The modern tools of chemistry and biology—in particular now allow scientists to detail the exact nature of the biological effects of natural compounds on the human body, as well as to uncover possible synergies, which holds much promise for the development of new therapies against many devastating diseases.
In May 2019, scientists at the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa confirmed the successful isolation of a new plant-derived molecule (SG178) from the Caribbean pine resin. An anti-inflammatory plant discovery that originated from Trinidad in the late 1800’s. The Caribbean pine resin was found to have many anti-inflammatory components. The most active component (SG178) was isolated, identified, and confirmed as a new plant-derived drug discovery. Through subsequent analysis, it was determined that SG178 was superior to virtually every compound the team examined, including CBD and diclofenac (the active ingredient in the widely used topical NSAID Voltaren, in cell-based inflammation assays.
Scientists believe that this discovery has the potential to join the pantheon of historically important plant-derived discoveries over the last 200 years which includes Aspirin – derived from the white willow tree, Morphine, OxyContin, Codeine & Fentanyl – derived from the Opium poppy, and Digoxin – a heart medication isolated from the foxglove plant.
The SG178 discovery has been confirmed as the first plant-derived drug discovery credited to a black-owned company in the history of the United States.
Further studies are afoot to validate the efficacy of known therapeutics, and identify other therapeutic benefits this anti-inflammatory plant can provide, so that new products are developed to solve problems that hinder people from living healthier, pain-free lifestyles.