Harnessing the power of Nature’s for the production of High-Value Natural Products: Opiates, anti-cancer drugs, anti-addictive agents and the future access to natural products.
Dr. Scott Farrow
Director of Biological Discoveries,
The use of natural products by humans’ pre-dates written history, and while synthetic organic chemistry has produced new commercially relevant compounds, the organisms found in nature are the master chemists. These organisms have evolved an inexhaustible array of natural product scaffolds that are used directly in medicine (i.e. morphine from opium poppy), exploited for drug development (i.e. salicylic acid for acetylsalicylic acid or Aspirin), and used across industries including but not limited to food (i.e. health products such as green foods), cosmetic (i.e. scents in perfumes) and fuel (biofuel, specialty fuels). While the utilization of natural products has helped address the needs of a growing human population, challenges remain that threaten our well-being. In this context, nature remains a rich source of solutions to these challenges. For example, the utility of natural products as the source for food and medicine is still significant. In this seminar I will discuss my work on the elucidation of several key medicinal plant biochemical pathways (morphine, vinblastine and ibogaine) and outline traditional and modern approaches for accessing known and novel high-value natural products. I will also discuss my new role as director of biological discovery at Noblegen and some of the work we are conducting to access sustainable foods and medicines.