Some useful pharmazooticals, now and in the future

  • Michael Paul Danckwerts University of the Witwatersrand
Keywords: pharmazooticals, drugs, well-being, medicinal compounds


Animals remain an important source of drugs in the search for new medicinal compounds. Drugs from animal sources include insulin, pituitary hormones, vitamins, and antibiotics and biological agents, such as vaccines and immune serums. Insulin, discovered by Frederick Banting, was one of the earliest drugs to derive from animals. Today, a new drug called exenatide from the Gila monster’s spit keeps glucose blood levels steady, as well as ensuring weight loss in many patients. Many drugs, adjuvants and cosmetic substances derive from domestic animals, as well as wild ones. Premarin and gelatine, obtained from horses, are vital to our being. Hyaluronic acid, originally found in rooster combs, is a popular skin care ingredient, as well as a medicinal agent for osteoarthritis and eye surgeries. The venom and toxin from animals, like snakes, spiders, scorpions and insects, is extremely potent because it interacts with specific macromolecular targets in the body. Thus, it has been used as the lead compound in the development of novel drugs, such as natural adhesives used in surgeries, and to help to treat strokes, digestive disorders and gastric reflux disease. It may also be useful in treating and preventing cardiovascular disease. Cytarabine, obtained from the Caribbean sponge, is used in the treatment of acute myeloid leukaemia. Many new antibiotics are being developed from alligators and frogs which spend their lives in places that are teeming with infectious microbes.

Author Biography

Michael Paul Danckwerts, University of the Witwatersrand
PhD, MBL(Cum laude) Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology Faculty of Health Sciences University of the Witwatersrand