Insects: an underrepresented resource for the discovery of biologically active natural products

Lauren Seabrooks, Longqin Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Nature has been the source of life-changing and -saving medications for centuries. Aspirin, penicillin and morphine are prime examples of Nature׳s gifts to medicine. These discoveries catalyzed the field of natural product drug discovery which has mostly focused on plants. However, insects have more than twice the number of species and entomotherapy has been in practice for as long as and often in conjunction with medicinal plants and is an important alternative to modern medicine in many parts of the world. Herein, an overview of current traditional medicinal applications of insects and characterization of isolated biologically active molecules starting from approximately 2010 is presented. Insect natural products reviewed were isolated from ants, bees, wasps, beetles, cockroaches, termites, flies, true bugs, moths and more. Biological activities of these natural products from insects include antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, anticancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-426
Number of pages18
JournalActa Pharmaceutica Sinica B
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


  • Drug discovery
  • Entomotherapy
  • Insects
  • Natural products
  • Traditional medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Insects: an underrepresented resource for the discovery of biologically active natural products'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this