DATABASICS: Back to nature

With the growing influence of

Randall C Willis
CHICAGO—With the growing influence of natural products in drug discovery and general healthcare, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have introduced a new database comprised of information from the scientific and clinical literature regarding natural products and herbal remedies. Via the Internet, scientists can access NAPRALERT to retrieve pharmacological, ethnomedical and phytochemical data about compounds from a variety of organisms, both plant and animal.
 
The repository is the result of three decades of work by Dr. Norman Farnsworth, director of the Program for Collaborative Research in the Pharmaceutical Sciences at UIC, and colleagues who poured through the literature of UIC's medical library. The earliest reference dates to the 1800s while new data is added as it becomes available.
 
Interestingly, unlike many similar academic databases touching other subjects, NAPRALERT content is not provided free-of-charge. Rather, Farnsworth's group charges a nominal fee of $0.50 per citation for reports including 100 or fewer citations and $0.25 per citation for reports over 101 citations. As the web site explains, these charges and tax-free donations are the only thing that will allow the repository to continue to grow.

Randall C Willis

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