Biodiscovery for Natural Product Pharmaceuticals: An Australian Experience
Pharmaceuticals or derivatives from natural products, i.e. small molecules obtained from the Earth's biosphere, account for a significant proportion of global drug sales. Since the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), however, researchers can no longer simply apply to access organisms or genetic material without also entering into a mutually agreed benefit sharing agreement with the country of origin. The CBD may have stymied research in some countries while legislation for access and benefit agreements are being developed. In Australia, the Natural Product Discovery collaboration between Griffith University and the pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca has pursued a biodiscovery program since 1993 under the auspices of the CBD. In addition to providing novel chemical leads and insights to many of the company's biological targets, the collaboration has also enabled systematic mapping of Australian flora and fauna via its collection program and taxonomic identification of new species. This article highlights the progress being made in this area and the specific obstacles to this approach from an Australian perspective.
Journal of Biolaw and Business