Could Ancient Remedies Hold the Answer to the Looming Antibiotic Crisis?

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Sciborg_S_Patel

#1
Could Ancient Remedies Hold the Answer to the Looming Antibiotic Crisis?

In a warm, clear evening in March, with the sun still hanging above the horizon, Cassandra Quave climbed aboard a jalapeño-green 4-by-4 and started to drive across her father’s ranch in Arcadia, Fla. Surveying the landscape, most people would have seen a homogenous mat of pasture and weeds punctuated by the occasional tree. Quave saw something quite different: a vast botanical tapestry, rich as a Persian rug. On a wire fence, a Smilax vine dangled menacingly pointed leaves, like a necklace of shark’s teeth. Beneath it, tiny wild daisies and mint ornamented the grass with pink tassels and purple cornets. Up above, on the sloping branches of oak trees, whiskery bromeliads, Spanish moss and the gray fronds of resurrection fern tangled in a miniature jungle all their own.

Each of these species intrigued Quave enough to merit a pause, a verbal greeting, a photo. An ethnobotanist based at Emory University in Atlanta, Quave, 38, has an unabashed fondness for all citizens of the kingdom plantae. But on this evening, her attention lingered on certain species more than others: those with the power to heal, with the potential to help prevent a looming medical apocalypse...
 
#2
Nah, I say we need highly expensive high tech research into stuff such as medical nano machines, nano pharmacology and AI driven medicine. Patentable stuff that cost billions of $$ in R&D and that can only be managed by a few mega corporations. This is the future and it's exciting... plants are old and boring :):D

Time to stimulate these sad economic times, yes?
 
#3
Nah, I say we need highly expensive high tech research into stuff such as medical nano machines, nano pharmacology and AI driven medicine. Patentable stuff that cost billions of $$ in R&D and that can only be managed by a few mega corporations. This is the future and it's exciting... plants are old and boring :):D

Time to stimulate these sad economic times, yes?
You're being sarcastic here but as I recall, Dr. Quave wasn't saying to prescribe them without testing. Her approach seems sound enough.

The article raised some of the challenges though in testing some of these remedies.

The issue is not whether ancients remedies can be effective. The issue is that before prescribing those remedies today proper testing should be done. Which is what she recommends.
 
#4
You're being sarcastic here but as I recall, Dr. Quave wasn't saying to prescribe them without testing. Her approach seems sound enough.
My sarcasm wasn't directed at Dr.Quave...

Also you realize that proper testing means proper money to be spent where there's potentially little return, unless something is patentable or opens huge new markets. The article itself reports that big pharma has drastically reduced or shut down antibiotic research because there's much more profit to be made in starins and antidepressants.

The issue is that before prescribing those remedies today proper testing should be done. Which is what she recommends.
What are "those remedies"? You couldn't be more vague than that...
 
#5
My sarcasm wasn't directed at Dr.Quave...

Also you realize that proper testing means proper money to be spent where there's potentially little return, unless something is patentable or opens huge new markets. The article itself reports that big pharma has drastically reduced or shut down antibiotic research because there's much more profit to be made in starins and antidepressants.
Of course profit is going to be a factor! But remember that there is money to be made in natural products. The market is there. As the article notes, there are practical issues that go beyond other drugs being more profitable. The challenges in doing the research and coming up with a suitable commercial product seem to go well beyond that. Here are a couple of papers reviewing the state of this kind of research, including the challenges which involve profit (one article recommends legislative changes that will help patent these kinds of remedies) but also scientific and practical challenges dealing with extracts that are highly complex mixtures of active compounds.

Natural products utilization
Antibiotic natural products: Opportunities and challanges

Both articles make interesting reads and google scholar indicates there are a lot of papers out there. Work is being done in this area, the articles discuss recent innovations that may make commercially producing these drugs more viable so hopefully they continue to make progress there.

What are "those remedies"? You couldn't be more vague than that...
I'm talking generally about the kinds of remedies that are the subject of the article! The articles I posted discuss more. I'm not sure what you are objecting to here.
 
#6
Of course profit is going to be a factor! But remember that there is money to be made in natural products. The market is there.
It's very unlikely. Natural products are mostly extracts or tinctures from one or multiple plants. There is usually no high tech, ultra expensive extraction or manufacturing process to justify pharmaceutical level prices.

Take any of the most used and clinically well studied plants ( garlic, licorice, milk thistle, rhodiola, ginko, hawthorne etc... ) and show me how they can compete with profits made by big-pharma. There are orders of magnitude of difference!

Surely every now and then big pharma stumbles upon a natural compounds that is hard to extract and manufacture such as vinblastine, mentioned in the article This in turn allows for patented extraction or synthesis techniques that allow larger profits.

Ruta graveolens is a plant with anti-tumor properties that have been known for decades, yet there's no incentive from pharmaceutical corporations to invest into R&D because the effect comes from the extract itself. Even in the light of a promising remedy for brain tumors (among other things) it is likely we'll never know about it or it will be relegated in the field of naturopathy where it will be dismissed on the basis that there is no evidence :)

So I am truly sympathetic with Dr. Quave but I don't believe the current state of business in medical research will be able to bring out what is really useful. Mostly only what is profitable. Hence the sarcasm of my first post (in case I had to explain).
 
#9
Makes sense. If I worked in the in the field I wouldn't share my pessimism as well :)
Well it is more than mere wistfulness. I dont know if you read the articles or not but what they seem to be doing is working on ways to make them more commercially viable - which would include the reality that those who will produce it make a profit as well as overcoming the technical challenges both to research and production.
 
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