chapter  1
10 Pages

An Introduction and Overview

WithSteven M. Colegate, Russell J. Molyneux

In the context of this book, and its predecessor, bioactive natural products are those chemical compounds produced by living organisms that exert a biological effect on other organisms. This includes therapeutic activity for diseases of humans and animals, toxic activity responsible for causing human and animal disease, and selective, biodegradable toxicity to help combat pests that may adversely affect our endeavors to feed and otherwise service (e.g., protect cotton crops or plantations of timber used for construction, etc.) the human population. In some cases, these bioactive natural products are secondary metabolites produced by the organism to help protect itself within its own environmental niche. In other cases, the compounds may be integral to the everyday existence of the organism but have serendipitous activity in unrelated biological systems. This latter scenario is exemplifi ed by the search for novel bioactive applications for components of our food, for example, milk and egg-derived proteins.