Secondary Metabolites from Diospyros

Nature has been a great source of important medicines for treating various types of ailments throughout the ages. Alongside the discovery of natural medicines is the emergence of new types of diseases.

The progression and spread of drug-resistance is now threatening to undermine our ability to treat new diseases and save lives. Natural products, chemicals derived from the metabolism of living organism, are important sources of drugs. More than half of prescription and nonprescription drugs today are based on these chemicals.

These include the famous anti-inflammatory drug, aspirin, from the willow tree bark, the anti-cancer drug, paclitaxel, isolated from the pacific yew and the antimalarial drug, artermisinin, characterized from the sweet wormwood plant. Natural products exemplify the complexity and chemical diversity in nature.

Many of which inspire the syntheses of novel compounds with an impressive potency against vicious diseases of today. Plants provide useful natural products. Evolution has already carried out a screening process whereby plants are more likely to survive if they synthesize potent compounds which deter animals or insects from eating them.

Most of these potent compounds are considered secondary metabolites which, often incorrectly, tagged as nonessential to plant life. On the contrary, secondary metabolites serve a wide variety of important roles such as defense and communication. The diversity of Philippine plants is exceptional, however, few have been studied extensively for their chemical constituents. In taking the challenge of expanding phytochemical studies of Philippines plants and discovering natural products with pharmacological significance, an endemic plant species Diospyros blancoi A.

DC. is considered for this study. The genus Diospyros, under family Ebenaceae, is composed of some 475 species common in tropical regions worldwide. Some of them are fruit-producing trees including D. blancoi, locally known as mabolo or kamagong. This genus is being studied for its chemical constituents and medical applications. About 300 metabolites have been isolated and identified from the genus Diospyros . D. blancoi A. DC. is commonly cultivated for its timber and fruit. It is also planted for ornamental purposes. References

Theis, N. ; Lerdau, Manuel “Evolution and Function in Plant Secondary Metabolites”. International Journal of Plant Science, 164(3 Suppl. ), p. S93-S102. Mabberley, D. J. The Plant-Book, a Portable Dictionary of Vascular Plants, 2nd ed. ; Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, U. K. , 1997, p 232 Mallavadhani, U. V. ; Panda, A. K. ; Rao, Y. R. “Chemotaxonomy and Pharmacology of Diospyros”. Phytochemistry 1998, 49(4), p. 901-951. World Agroforestry Centre. http://www. worldagroforestrycentre. org. AgroForestryTree Database. June 8, 2007.

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