Natural novelty

A rarely seen plant that grows in the damp shadows of Chinese mountainsides, Chloranthus oldhamii Solms-Laubach, has yielded several intriguing natural products with entirely novel and previously unseen skeletons. The chlorabietols discovered by Jin-Feng Hu of Fudan University in Shanghai and colleagues present putative new leads for active agents against the enzyme protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B which is a negative regulator of the insulin signaling pathway and also linked to cell proliferation in breast cancer, for instance. As with any discovery of new natural products, much more work is now needed to take the discovery forward and to find out whether it has real promise in medicinal chemistry.