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Nature's Pharmacy

  • By Claudine Ko
  • Posted 02.06.07
  • NOVA

Plants, animals, and fungi each contain thousands of chemical compounds, which they use in everything from reproduction to defense against predators and disease. Scientists have long harnessed such natural chemicals to fight human illnesses, often synthesizing them (artificially creating them in the lab) and developing them into drugs. In this slide show, take a look at a few species that have offered up cures and salves for a number of afflictions.

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In this slide show, see wild species that gave rise to penicillin, morphine, and other medications.

This feature originally appeared on the site for the NOVA program Forgotten Genius.

Credits

Images

(cinchona)
Courtesy USGS
(Streptomyces)
Courtesy of CDC/Dr. David Berd
(penicillin mold)
Courtesy George Barron/Kenyon College
(cone snail)
© Jonathan Blair/CORBIS
(Pacific yew)
Courtesy Robert Beall/Flathead Valley Community College
(opium poppy)
Courtesy Mark Nesbitt and Delwen Samuel
(foxglove)
© Karl Gordon
(soybeans)
Courtesy USDA
(Mexican yam)
© Stephen Foster

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