Meeting Report: 3rd Natural Products

“The third in the series of natural product conferences was convened in beautiful Cancun, Mexico. Extending on the theme of the science of natural product research and the technology that drives the results from version #2, a wonderful group of scientists comprised of synthetic chemist, marine natural product chemists and young investigators in the field presented stirring science of all facets of natural product research. The hardware and technology that drives natural product research was evident in all presentations.

The meeting was chaired by Mark O’Neil-Johnson, Sequoia Sciences, Inc.

The opening talk was given by Bill Gerwick (Univ. of California, San Diego) where he detailed an NMR tool, Small Molecule Accurate Recognition Technology (SMART), which helps identify and map structural classes based on molecular fragments of natural product molecules from marine sources. This was followed by a macrolide synthesis lecture from Patrick Harran (Univ. of California, Los Angeles that concluded a short morning session.

Kicking off the afternoon session on biosynthetic pathways of natural products was a talk from David Sherman (University of Michigan) on a new class of indole alkaloid cyclases from cyanobacteria. Paul Jensen (Univ. of California, San Diego) gave an excellent talk about understanding certain gene clusters and what their function may be in biosynthetic pathways of a marine natural product. A diversion followed with a graduate student talk from Ross McLennan (Univ. of St. Andrews) on his approach to the synthesis of pyronnazol A. The afternoon highlight was the final speaker of the day, Paul Wender (Stanford Univ.) sharing many marvelous synthetic projects, inspired by a natural product, on therapeutic agents to treat HIV, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

Day two began with the morning session on marine natural products. Raymond Andersen (Univ. of British Columbia) gave a lecture on many of the marine natural product structures that he has uncovered and their protein targets. Bill Fenical (Scripps Inst. of Oceanography) and Phil Crews (Univ. of California, Santa Cruz) followed, sharing their many years of marine natural product discoveries from ocean sediments and sponges that target cancer and gram-negative bacteria. Moving into fresh water discoveries, Alejandra Prieto-Davo (Univ. Nacional Autonoma de Mexico) shared her research on potential natural product discoveries from mangrove sediment off the coast of the Yucatan, where fresh water and the sea intersect. Last for the morning session was Cassandra Quave (Emory University) who gave a spirited ethanobotanical talk on plant based natural product discoveries toward the prevention of bacterial biofilm formation.

The afternoon session contained a series of technology lectures that started with Nadja Cech (Univ. of North Carolina, Greensboro) sharing her labs approach to generating metabolomic mapping data using accurate mass to identify bioactive components from natural product mixtures. Brian Murphy (Univ. of Illinois, Chicago) gave a talk on his innovations to improve on sample collection of unique sources and the chemical library production of these sources for biological screening. Ning-Sun Yang (Academia Sinica, Taiwan) gave a lecture evaluating omics approaches to evaluating Phytochemicals as potent medical treatments. The next two pure technology talks were from Sandra Groscurth (Bruker Biospin) and Giorgis Isaac (Waters Corporation). Sandra shared the latest Bruker NMR technology for improved sensitivity and Bruker’s approach to automated structure elucidation. Giorgis spoke on Ion Mobility MS.

The final session of the day started with a talk from Sandra Loesgen (Oregon State Univ.) on her labs discovery platform from marine microbes and their screens and targets. The final talk, from Dimitris Argyropoulos (ACD/Labs), revealed ACD/Labs’ suite of Enterprise Software and how to track the multitude of data coming from all instrument vendors and instrument technologies.

The final day began with a talk from Mariza Abreu Miranda (Univ. of Sao Paulo) on nanoparticle encapsulation for the delivery of glycoalkaloids of solanum lycocarpum and its biological evaluation. This was followed by a wonderful technology talk by Phil Koerner (Phenomenex) on the history of HPLC columns. James McChesney (Cloaked Therapeutics) finished the morning session with a lecture on the next generation of taxanes.

The afternoon was a short session that began with an interesting lecture from Rupika Delgoda (Uiv. of the West Indies) on the education and use of botanicals os therapeutic agents in Jamaica. The final lecture of the conference came from Alexander Komienko (Texas State Univ.) on the synthesis of a tublin targeting alkaloid discovered from a marine organism.

In conclusion, each and every talk presented had an underlying theme of technology and how it was used to uncover an answer from their respective research into natural product drug discovery. It is clear to us all that technology is crucial for getting to the endpoint in every scientific endeavor.”

About the organiser

The 3rd Natural Products conference was organised by Fusion Conferences, a family-run scientific meeting organiser. Fusion specialises in meetings within the academic and corporate industry for those working at the forefront of physical, medical, life sciences and their related technologies. Fusion’s forthcoming meetings can be viewed at

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