Research Topic

Advances and Future Trends in Bioactive Natural Products: Insights into Total Synthesis and Their Biological and Biomedical Applications

About this Research Topic

The discovery of new naturally occurring compounds holds the key for advancing material sciences. Several natural products with extraordinary chemical structures and significant biological activities have been identified and have proved to be invaluable in various fields, including biomedicine. Natural products are presently used in many product preparations, mainly as flavoring agents and functional additives in pharmaceutical industries. Although chemically synthesized, they have an indubitable significance in therapy, as it is believed that natural products are often more efficient if a specific biological activity is targeted, e.g. as an enzyme inhibitor. In the last decade, the discovery of natural product-based drugs has successfully yielded several important breakthroughs, including artemisinin and avermectins, which were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2015. Recently, many countries have integrated natural product-based drugs into their mainstream health systems. In China, for example, it is aimed to integrate Traditional Chinese Medicine into the health system in 2020.

With the application of new strategies in drug discovery, several bioactive naturally occurring compounds have been reported which exhibit efficacy against various human diseases. Identification of novel bioactive naturally occurring compounds appears to be a strong approach to possible new drug approval as well as providing safe and effective therapy. The discovery of a novel bioactive compound frequently triggers a breakthrough in basic science and often becomes a candidate for drug discovery or a biological probe for physiological studies. Therefore, this field of research has become a vital area for researchers and there will likely be a tremendous demand for natural product bioactive medicines in the coming years. Despite the great potential of natural product-based drugs to treat multifactorial diseases, a limited number of these compounds have reached clinical trials or market.

Accordingly, the main objective of this Research Topic is to provide a platform to increase researchers’ understanding of chemistry, mode of action and pharmacological activities of these compounds. In order to extend our knowledge on the effectiveness of bioactive natural products and explore their pharmaceutical applications, this Research Topic will focus on the following issues: all chemical aspects of bioactive natural products (isolation, structure elucidation, synthesis and SAR study), evaluation of their biological activities, and identification/elucidation of their molecular cell mechanism(s).

This Research Topic aims at gathering relevant and innovative research advances to highlight recent prospective and future trends in the chemical and biological aspects of bioactive natural products (semisynthetic and nature-based substances included). Both Original Research articles and Reviews are welcome for submission. Themes to be covered include, but are not limited to:
• Design and development of novel synthetic strategies for potentially bioactive naturally occurring compounds.
• Development of methodologies for discovery of naturally occurring bioactive molecules.
• Isolation and characterization of novel bioactive natural products
• Structure-activity relationship study to improve bioactivity and selectivity of bioactive naturally occurring compounds, aiming to improve pharmacological activities.
• Future trends for the development of novel and highly potent bioactive molecules based on natural products.
• Computational and mechanistic studies to identify or elucidate the mode of action of bioactive naturally occurring compounds (or derivatives) toward interesting drug targets.
• Metabolic and lipidomic profiling of bioactive naturally occurring compounds against multifactorial diseases.


Keywords: Bioactive compounds, natural products, Design, Chemical synthesis, SAR study, computational study, mechanistic study, Drug discovery, Biological properties


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The discovery of new naturally occurring compounds holds the key for advancing material sciences. Several natural products with extraordinary chemical structures and significant biological activities have been identified and have proved to be invaluable in various fields, including biomedicine. Natural products are presently used in many product preparations, mainly as flavoring agents and functional additives in pharmaceutical industries. Although chemically synthesized, they have an indubitable significance in therapy, as it is believed that natural products are often more efficient if a specific biological activity is targeted, e.g. as an enzyme inhibitor. In the last decade, the discovery of natural product-based drugs has successfully yielded several important breakthroughs, including artemisinin and avermectins, which were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2015. Recently, many countries have integrated natural product-based drugs into their mainstream health systems. In China, for example, it is aimed to integrate Traditional Chinese Medicine into the health system in 2020.

With the application of new strategies in drug discovery, several bioactive naturally occurring compounds have been reported which exhibit efficacy against various human diseases. Identification of novel bioactive naturally occurring compounds appears to be a strong approach to possible new drug approval as well as providing safe and effective therapy. The discovery of a novel bioactive compound frequently triggers a breakthrough in basic science and often becomes a candidate for drug discovery or a biological probe for physiological studies. Therefore, this field of research has become a vital area for researchers and there will likely be a tremendous demand for natural product bioactive medicines in the coming years. Despite the great potential of natural product-based drugs to treat multifactorial diseases, a limited number of these compounds have reached clinical trials or market.

Accordingly, the main objective of this Research Topic is to provide a platform to increase researchers’ understanding of chemistry, mode of action and pharmacological activities of these compounds. In order to extend our knowledge on the effectiveness of bioactive natural products and explore their pharmaceutical applications, this Research Topic will focus on the following issues: all chemical aspects of bioactive natural products (isolation, structure elucidation, synthesis and SAR study), evaluation of their biological activities, and identification/elucidation of their molecular cell mechanism(s).

This Research Topic aims at gathering relevant and innovative research advances to highlight recent prospective and future trends in the chemical and biological aspects of bioactive natural products (semisynthetic and nature-based substances included). Both Original Research articles and Reviews are welcome for submission. Themes to be covered include, but are not limited to:
• Design and development of novel synthetic strategies for potentially bioactive naturally occurring compounds.
• Development of methodologies for discovery of naturally occurring bioactive molecules.
• Isolation and characterization of novel bioactive natural products
• Structure-activity relationship study to improve bioactivity and selectivity of bioactive naturally occurring compounds, aiming to improve pharmacological activities.
• Future trends for the development of novel and highly potent bioactive molecules based on natural products.
• Computational and mechanistic studies to identify or elucidate the mode of action of bioactive naturally occurring compounds (or derivatives) toward interesting drug targets.
• Metabolic and lipidomic profiling of bioactive naturally occurring compounds against multifactorial diseases.


Keywords: Bioactive compounds, natural products, Design, Chemical synthesis, SAR study, computational study, mechanistic study, Drug discovery, Biological properties


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

07 January 2021 Abstract
30 April 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

07 January 2021 Abstract
30 April 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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