A new center to search for medicines from plants and othernatural products, the Centre for Natural Product Research inSingapore, was announced by the international pharmaceuticalcompany Glaxo, the Economic Development Board and theInstitute of Molecular and Cell Biology of the NationalUniversity of Singapore.

The center will develop and operate high-technology screeningsystems directed at the discovery of active molecules in naturalproducts (derived from plants, fungi and bacteria) that mayform the basis of new medicines. The samples will be gatheredfrom Singapore and other Far East sources.

Research at the center should complement the natural productsdiscovery program by Glaxo Group Research Ltd. in Britain.Any new compounds discovered by the Singapore center forpotential use in human medicine will be available fordevelopment and marketing by Glaxo on a royalty basis.

"Screening for lead bioactive compounds to be used to designnew medicines is an important and key activity in thepharmaceutical industry," said Y. H. Tan, director of theInstitute of Molecular & Cell Biology. "The rapid progress maderecently in basic molecular and cell biological research hasadded a new dimension to this business of drug screeningbecause powerful new screening procedures for naturalcompounds can now be designed to detect novel drugs."

-- Nancy Garcia Associate Editor

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