Insect natural products as potential source for alternative medicines - A Review
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Developments in bioengineering natural products from insects with potential use in modern medicines as well as in utilisation of insects as models for studying essential mammalian processes such as immune responses to pathogens are discussed in this review. The significant recent advances in developing insect derived natural products as potential new medicinal drugs and the use of medicinal plants for the treatment of human diseases has long been practised since the beginning of human civilization. To date, insects have been relatively neglected as sources of modern drugs although they have provided valuable natural products, including honey and silk, for at least 4-7000 years. The use of insect derived products as an alternative medicinal source is an exciting and rapidly expanding new field since insects are hugely variable and have a high biodiversity index. Insects products, such as silk and honey, have already been utilised commercially for thousands of years and extracts of insects used to produce for use in folk medicine around the world, nowadays several other insect products such as venoms which insects use for prey capture and defences, are also used to produce new medicinal drugs which are capable of fighting against a number of diseases like arthritis, inflammation, several cancers, neurological diseases and AIDS too. In the present decade the increasing price of biochemical medicines for the treatment of certain deadly diseases like cancer, AIDS etc is creating a huge economical burden to the common people in the developing countries like India. The search for alternative cost effective and easily available medicines for combating the upcoming diseases is an utmost need in the present decade. The emergence of this kind of alternative medicinal sources like that from the adult insects as well as from their different life history stages or their secretions which are available in plenty in the nature will open up new vistas in the recent researches based on development of medicinal drugs for human diseases.
- Department of Biological Sciences, Presidency University, 86/1, College Street, Kolkata - 700073, India
- P.G. Department of Zoology, Darjeeling Government College, West Bengal, India
- Department of Zoology, Scottish Church College, 1 & 3 Urquhart Square, Kolkata - 700006, India
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