Medical News & Perspectives |

Nature's Agents Help Heal Humans— Some Now Take Steps to Reciprocate

Charles Marwick
JAMA. 1998;279(21):1679-1681. doi:10.1001/jama.279.21.1679.
Text Size: A A A
Published online


FROM EARLIEST recorded time animals, plants, sea life, and microbes have been known as sources of drugs beneficial to human health. They still are. But human modification of ecosystems and the resulting loss of species diversity threaten these resources.

Therapeutically useful agents have recently been developed from natural sources:

  • An antiplatelet drug based on a snake venom that is shortly to become available to physicians;

  • A compound derived from the venom of a sea snail that is currently in extended clinical trials as an agent for the relief of chronic pain;

  • An alkaloid secreted in the skin of frogs that is in early clinical trials as another analgesic.

Figures in this Article

Sign In to Access Full Content

Don't have Access?

Register and get free email Table of Contents alerts, saved searches, PowerPoint downloads, CME quizzes, and more

Subscribe for full-text access to content from 1998 forward and a host of useful features

Activate your current subscription (AMA members and current subscribers)

Purchase Online Access to this article for 24 hours

First Page Preview

View Large
First page PDF preview


Place holder to copy figure label and caption

Epipedobates tricolor, the Ecuadoran frog from whose skin scientists have isolated the alkoloid epibatidine, leading to a new synthetic analgesic. (Photo credit: John W. Daly, PhD)

Graphic Jump Location
Place holder to copy figure label and caption

Conus purpurascens, the purple cone, one of hundreds of species of venomous cone snails found in tropical waters, extends its proboscis as it prepares to sting its prey. Synthetic copies of the snails' complex venom are being studied as analgesics. (Photo credit: Baldomero M. Olivera, PhD, and Nature)

Graphic Jump Location
Place holder to copy figure label and caption

Echis carinatus, the saw-scaled viper, found in Africa, poisons with venom containing a clot-preventing protein. A similar synthesized protein may be used to treat cardiac ischemic syndrome. (Photo credit: Merck & Co, Inc)

Graphic Jump Location



Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).


Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Sign In to Access Full Content

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Articles Related By Topic
Related Topics