Advances and trends in analytical techniques in natural product research: Challenges and future perspective
Advances in analytical methods and bioassay development have helped to push forward the research in natural products. Their high chemical diversity and the effects of evolutionary pressure to create biologically active molecules could be attributed to success in drug discovery. Despite the availability of modern analytical instrumentation techniques, metabolic profiling covers the identification of a selected group of metabolites. The phytochemical analysis is commonly performed using standard techniques such as thin-layer chromatography, high-performance thin-layer chromatography, high-performance liquid chromatography, gas chromatography and more recently mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry. Two-dimensional J-resolved Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectra and multivariate data analysis techniques were applied to avoid low resolution and overlapping signals hampering the identification of the individual components of botanicals. On-targeted metabolomic analysis via the ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UHPLC/Q-TOF-MS) was utilised to localise compounds belonging to various chemical classes (i.e. oxygenated fatty acids, flavonols, phenolic acids, and sinapoyl choline derivatives). Rotation planar chromatography over-pressured layer chromatography and electro planar chromatography are the other innovations. Parallel and serially coupled layers open up new avenues for the analysis of a large number of samples for high-throughput screening and very complex matrices in a natural product. Analytical strategies with applications to natural extracts and novel methods that have strong potential, regardless of how often they are used are discussed with respect to their potential applications challenges and future trends.
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