Nature provides us with a vast number of secondary metabolites (i.e. natural products) of broad structural diversity and molecular complexity. These organic molecules are produced by bacteria, fungi, plants and others, and fullfill important functions for these organisms such as signal transduction, chemical defense etc. For this reason, natural products are characterized by a pronounced biological activity, which traditionally has been exploited by ethnomedicine (Chinese traditional medicine). Mostly the molecular structure and composition of these “medicines” as well as their mode of action are largely unknown. In pharmaceutical research and industry natural products commonly serve as starting points in the pursuit for new drugs and pharmaceuticals. However, their further application is most often hampered by their low natural abundance (typically mg/kg dry weight) and laborious isolation.
The central research focus of the Gaich group comprises the synthesis of such natural products from commercial starting materials. Thereby the goal is to achieve a rationale, elegant and practical approach to these organic molecules that provides enough material for detailed pharmaceutical investigations and paves he way for new marketable substances. Displayed here are three prominent examples of natural products and their pharmaceutical properties (painkiller; anti-malaria; anti-biotic).