Merck Donates Natural Products Library For Research

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Pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck will donate its entire library of natural products to the Institute for Hepatitis and Virus Research along with a grant, the institute announced this week. The library, one of the world’s largest, will be open for researchers around the world.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for the Hepatitis B Foundation and our research institute, allowing us to make this treasure available to scientists from all over the world,” Timothy Block, co-founder and president of the Hepatitis B Foundation and the IHVR, said in a press release. Block is also a professor of microbiology at Drexel University College of Medicine. The institute is located in Pennsylvania.

“We will be able to create a screening center and provide access to this collection in a way that may lead to new discoveries and new companies in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey,” he said.

The Merck (also known as MSD) natural products library is considered to be “one of the most diverse and best curated natural products libraries in the world,” the institute said. It includes approximately 100,000 screen-ready extracts and represents approximately 60 percent of all known plant genera in the world.

“Natural products” refer to compounds derived from living organisms, such as plants and microorganisms. Many medications were originally derived from natural products, “including drugs to treat bacterial and fungal infections, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, immune suppressants for organ transplants, cancer and diseases and disorders of the central nervous system,” the release said.

In 2009, 45 percent of all US Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs were derived from natural products.

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