In this interactive activity from NOVA, explore images and descriptions of several plants, animals, and microorganisms whose chemical compounds are used in human medicine to treat disease and other conditions (including arthritis and malaria). Medicinal effects of natural substances have long been known to ancient cultures in China, the Americas, and elsewhere. However, modern scientific investigation to identify the chemical compounds that produce these effects is still relatively recent. As their understanding has grown, scientists have been able to create synthetic versions of natural compounds in the lab, yielding powerful drug compounds such as penicillin and cancer-fighting paclitaxel.
Learn more here.
© 2014 PBS & WGBH Educational Foundation. All rights reserved.