A TREASURE TROVE OF THERAPEUTICS?
Future Medicine India|February 2021
Cyanobacteria remain largely unutilised despite these microorganisms’ huge potential as drug sources
N S ARUN KUMAR

Cyanobacteria are promising but still unexplored natural resources offering a wealth of chemicals for the discovery of pharmaceutical compounds and new drugs. They have gained a lot of attention in recent years as a rich source of biologically active compounds with antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and anticancer activities. They are also used in the production of secondary metabolites including exopolysaccharides, vitamins, toxins, enzymes and pharmaceuticals. Scientists are also hopeful that future research could genetically modify existing strains to ensure maximum production of the desired products.

Unique microorganisms

Cyanobacteria are a unique class of microorganisms which are gramnegative and photosynthetic. They are prokaryotes which have fossil records from 3.3 to 3.5 billion years ago and are still among the most successful organisms on earth. Cyanobacteria have many names, such as cyanoprokaryotes, cyanophytes or blue-green algae. These names are derived from the fact that cyanobacteria have a blue-green pigment called C-Phycocyanin.

Genome sequencing studies of cyanobacteria show significant diversity and novelty of genes responsible for bioactive proteins, ribosomal and non-ribosomal peptides, and peptidepolyketide hybrid molecules. The presence of non-ribosomal peptide synthetase and polyketide synthetase genes reveals the potential for finding new varieties of drugs from these organisms. It is well known that the nonribosomal peptide synthetase-polyketide synthetase system produces a diverse family of compounds having biological and pharmacological properties. Cyanobacteria produce a wide variety of bioactive compounds, which are described below.

Cyanobacterial drugs for AIDS

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