Vol. 21, No. 3
Research and Training
in Medicial Chemistry in South and Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa
Results and Analysis of the Answers Received
Cooperation in Practical Training, Teaching
and Research in Medicinal Chemistry
A Crucial Time for Collaboration in Medicinal
in Practical Training, Teaching, and Research in Medicinal Chemistry
The need for increased cooperation appears in all of the questionnaire
responses. The impression created in this regard is that there are countries
that circulate on a railway on board a train while others run alongside
asking for help to get on. The countries on board the train must extend
a hand to the countries that are not on board by responding to their
Requests are very diverse. Countries such as Cameroon
are considering aid, including in its initial stages, for commercializing
plants in which active compounds appear. In general, cooperation is
requested for correct preparation of extracts. In other cases, requests
are related to the identification of active molecules and, in still
others, to the determination of biological activities. Implicit in all
the responses is a desire to be able to participate in the processes
of research and development so as not to remain mere suppliers of plants.
Cooperation can be set up along three fundamental lines
- courses, seminars, etc., that foster relationships between institutions
and persons within the teaching field
- joint scientific investigations and research projects, emphasizing
activities that allow for development of research centers
- greater presence of pharmaceutical companies in scientific collaboration
with those countries that sell their products
Survey responses have not been numerous enough to allow us to
propose a statistical study of much significance. Nevertheless, certain
tendencies constantly appear, which allow us to come to conclusions
that seem to be generally valid.
First of all, similar problems exist in all three areas
studied. Activity in medicinal chemistry is linked directly to the degree
of progressiveness and economic development of each country. In more
than one case, medicinal chemistry has been considered a luxury permitted
only in developed countries.
Medicaments have historically been studied by using plants
and traditional medicine as a starting point even in the most sophisticated
societies. From a pragmatic point of view, it would be interesting to
take into account the realities in developing countries when setting
up corresponding academic programs and when putting forth proposals
for collaboration on scientific research. Scientific authorities in
Latin American countries seem to agree that this approach is wise.
With regard to collaboration on aspects of teaching, no
special difficulties seem to appear; most likely, this interaction should
establish itself based on mutual knowledge and aid from various institutions
and foundations. Necessary actions to be taken in this area are not
especially difficult; they fundamentally require the generosity of professors
and researchers in the dedication of their time. One aspect to take
into consideration would be the sometimes difficult access to money
for travel expenses for professors.
Special importance should be placed on circulation of
reference literature and bibliographic material. Any collaboration in
this area should take into account all aspects of intellectual property,
including legal rights of publishers, editors, and authors. Finding
formulas that allow access to reference information by countries of
limited resources is a true challenge to the imagination of the scientific
community. Likewise, obtaining the means for developing countries to
purchase adequate materials and reagents can only be accomplished through
Equipment maintenance is an interesting consideration
deduced from the survey. Some research centers have had access to valuable
equipment as a result of goverment support, aid from private foundations,
etc. However, in most of these cases, upkeep of this equipment, which
is usually quite costly in monetary terms, has not been taken into consideration.
This point is especially important in those countries that cannot readily
maintain instruments in working order because maintenance service is
not justified on the part of companies that produce the equipment.
With regard to possibilities of collaboration on scientific
research, it is necessary to start from a position that contemplates
the true situation of the indigenous institutions, including their strengths
as well as their weaknesses. At present, it is possible to obtain quality
extracts from plants that have proved active in traditional medicine.
This advantage is important to those countries that have the plants
and know their scientific possibilities; however, the possibility of
obtaining extracts from plants that have never been studied before should
not be underestimated. Structural novelty now appears on the scene frequently,
and with it there is potentially an enormous interest when considering
the possibilities of patents. Determination of biological activities,
their validation, and elucidation of structures responsible for these
activities should all be part of any offer of collaboration from even
the most advanced countries. Most importantly, discovery of new medicinal
agents cannot be realized without active participation of pharmaceutical
Crucial Time for Collaboration in Medicinal Chemistry
We have reached an important juncture for both the developing
and advanced countries regarding collaboration in the field of medicinal
chemistry. We need to question whether true cooperation is developing
between the groups or if, on the other hand, differences are increasing.
We must also question whether we are capable of recognizing the possibilities
of collaboration, for mutual benefit, on areas in which the world of
research is truly divided at this time.
Our survey shows that the developing countries are requesting
collaboration with more advanced societies in which natural products
should be considered as a starting point; this opportunity could very
well be of interest to both societies.
This report was prepared for publication by Prof.
A. Monge Vega (chairman, Spain), Universidad de Navarra, CIFA, Irunlarrea,
s/n, 31008 Pamplona, Spain. The IUPAC Committee includes Prof.
C. R. Ganellin, Department of Chemistry, Christopher Ingold Laboratories,
University College London, 20 Gordon Street, London, WC1H 0AJ, UK; Dr.
J. Ide, Medicinal Chemistry Research Laboratories, Sankyo Co., Ltd.,
2-58 Hiromachi 1-Chome, Shinagawa-Ku, Tokyo 140, Japan;
Dr. N. Koga, Daiichi Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., 14-10, Nihonbashi
3-Chome, Chuo-Ku, Tokyo, 103 Japan; Dr.
P. Lindberg, Astra Hassle, A.B., S-432 83, Molndal, Sweden;
Prof. L. A. Mitscher, Department of Medicinal Chemistry, School
of Pharmacy, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045-2506, USA; Dr.
J. C. Muller, Synthelabo Recherche, BP 110, 31 Avenue Paul Vaillant-Couturier,
F 92225 Bagneux Cˇdex, France; Dr.
T. J. Perun, Abbott Laboratories, Dept. 467, Building R-8, 1401
Sheridan Road, North Chicago, IL 60064-4000, US.A; Prof.
J. G. Topliss, University of Michigan, College of Pharmacy, 428
Church St., Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1065,
USA; Prof. C. G.
Wermuth, Faculte de Pharmacie, Laboratoire de Chimie Organique,
Universite Louis Pasteur, 74, Route du Rhin, BP 24 Strasbourg, F 67401
Illkirch Cedex, France.