Motivation and needs of this project can be understood by focusing the demand and applications of natural products which are briefly described below
A large number of drugs introduced in the market in the last three decades are either natural products or are derivatives of natural products. Many of the newly introduced anti-cancer drugs are from natural products along with many anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antimicrobial drugs. Therefore, a large number of natural product scientists working on phytochemical investigation for the finding of novel lead molecules.
About 80% of the developing world populations rely on herbal medicine for healthcare need . This trend is also getting increased in the developed countries as well. Even the most modern pharmaceutical companies, such as Abbot, Merck, Pfizer and Eli Lilly, are now involved into herbal products manufacturing and sales, along with many Western and Asian companies which specialize in botanicals. Atorvastatin marketed as Lipitor by Pfizer and Astellas Pharma has been a blockbuster drug and has raked upto 12 – 14 billion annually before its patent expired in March 2010 .
Natural products are not only limited to the pharmaceutical industry, they find their place in the FMCG and cosmetics industry as well. Major brands of FMCG products being used worldwide contain natural products which include tooth pastes, soaps, shampoos, hand and body washes, cosmetic products like face creams, gels, lotions, etc. it is worth noticing that almost all of these products mentioned contain natural products in the form of fragrances and flavors. These natural products are analyzed for the sake of quality control in their respective industries which have their own developed methods of quality control. A limitation worth mentioning is that often the quality control procedures used by the industry are product specific and are not generalized so that their usefulness for high throughput multi-component analyses is usually limited.
Consumers have become more quality conscious about the food which they consume. Agriculture foods and crops which are exported at international market like rice, mangoes, and oranges etc from Pakistan require vale addition for earning high income. Value additions in a product like, identification of its characteristic components, metabolite profiling and fingerprinting of aroma compounds based on modern methods in combination with in-silico tools, are very important factor in gaining consumers and exporter's confidence which consequently enhance export potential with favorable income generation.
Addition to aforementioned demands and application of natural products, ICCBS infrastructure and technical expertise of this project team is another motivation. Salient features of project strength are mentioned below
The H. E. J. Research Institute of Chemistry (International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences) is among the best institutions of the world working in the field of herbal medicines and phytochemistry. The Institute has won prestigious Islamic Development Bank Prize of the Best Science Institution in the Islamic World, in recognition of its unique contributions in the field of natural products chemistry, twice.
Availability of over 5000 identified and characterized natural products at the Molecular Bank of ICCBS. These compounds are unique because these compounds are not available commercially. The molecular bank at ICCBS is a unique facility of ICCBS.
CCBS has a world class mass spectrometry laboratory equipped with modern mass spectrometers sufficient number of trained personnel capable of recording mass spectrum from a given compound.
This project team composed of a mass spectrometry expert, Dr. Syed Ghulam Musharraf (PI), a well renowned and distinguished scientist of Pakistan, Prof. Dr. M. Iqbal Choudhary (Co-PI), Ph. D. and M. Phil. students. The International collaborator, Prof. Takaaki Nishioka, In-Charge of International MassBank Consortium is also the part of this project team
Our information technology infrastructure i.e. Latif Ebrahim Jamal National Science Information Sector (LEJ NSIC) at ICCBS is sufficient for the generation of database from the data recorded from mass spectrometer.
The development of a database of mass spectral data for a large number of natural products is an important need and attraction for the natural product researchers and industry in the current scenario because, that database will enable these industries to implement methods for quick identification and analyses of components present in their products. There is a myriad of companies globally like Symrise, Givaudan, Firmenich and IFF which deliver natural products specialties like flavors, fragrances, bioactive substances, cosmetic products etc. to major FMCG brands worldwide. These companies work on natural products or their derivatives and there is a need of a database for these companies which would enable their R&D sections to work in a quick and cost-effective manner. Obviously, academic research would also benefit from such a database because there is a great number of research groups worldwide working in the field of natural products for the searching of bioactive compounds. Reiterative isolation and separation of natural products from crude extracts is a challenging problem for academic research. No one wants to isolate the same natural product again and again and there is a need for these groups to have such a database which would enable them to analyze their mixtures prior to isolation.