InnovationWell Interaction Meeting: Nov 21, Basel, Switzerland

A New Era in Using Natural Products for Drug Development and Health

Location: Technology Park Basel AG, Basel, Switzerland, Map

Date: Wednesday, 21 November, Technology Park Basel, 14.30 - 18.00

Co-sponsored by the Swiss OpenTox Chapter

Overview: Although some 300,000 compounds in nature are known, only 10% of this rich source is available for drug discovery. That’s because natural products present challenges* that we’ve never been able to solve. Is now the time? Does modern information technology offer the solution? Could new techniques - infrastructure development, data sharing, crowdsourcing, natural product mimetic library design, evidence-based workflows - provide the missing conditions for a new era of natural-based drugs and healthcare products?

Join us for the launch of InnovationWell Basel to discuss how we can advance the fascinating promise natural products offer for new drugs!  Be part of InnovationWell’s “knowledge café”.  Hear the Perspectives of experts in the field. Then, join in the informal round-table discussions that pool the diverse knowledge of all participants. InnovationWell is looking for new answers for today’s most pressing questions.


Tímea Polgár, Founder and CEO, Envision Biotechnology

Information on natural products and traditional medicine is often ambiguous or unavailable and current databases may not be applicable for discovery sciences. How could modern technology and approaches like crowdsourcing support the sharing of complex data on natural products? How can we meet the need for standardized and structured databases with enough scope to cover natural product sources, their chemistry, as well as in vitro, in vivo and traditional data?

Barry Hardy, CEO, Douglas Connect and President, OpenTox Association

How do we apply the lessons learned in such global scientific communities as OpenTox, OpenRiskNet, NanoCommons and the BaselArea DayOne Initiative in Precision Medicine to the challenges of developing Natural Products? How can we advance data sharing, integrated testing and safety assessment, the challenges of complex molecules and uncertainties in modelling mixtures?

David Bruno, Director Natural Substances, R&D Sourcing & Botany at Pierre Fabre Research Institute

Some 300,000 natural compounds are known, but only 10% are physically available for testing. Could crowdsourcing help test more natural products? Could a network of natural product scientists form a supply chain to test them? What could be the benefits and challenges for discovery scientists?

Philip Judson, Founder, Lhasa Limited

Natural products cannot be patented, this is one reason why drug discovery scientists turned away from the frequent application of natural products. However, there are several ways that IP and related business challenges can be managed. An African story will provide further insights on how natural products could be involved in modern research workflows.

*Some of the problems with using natural products for drug discovery

  • limited or uncertain supply;
  • patent issues;
  • synthesizability;
  • technical barriers to screening natural products in high-throughput assays against molecular targets;
  • lack of understanding and trust in alternative and traditional medicine practices;
  • ambiguous evidence-based information on natural products, including health outcomes and safety evaluation.