Natural products including bacteria, fungi and plants, continue to provide the most productive source of leads for new medicines such as statins, immunosuppressants and anticancer agents. However, less than 10% of this vast natural resource has been tested for biological activity, yet nearly half of the top 20 selling drugs owe their origins to natural products, as do many drugs now in development.
Malaysia is endowed with rich biodiversity containing about 70% of the plant species found worldwide. However, a large proportions of these natural resources remained untapped. Natural products research involves multiple disciplines including new technologies such as Combinatorial Chemistry and Molecular Biology. University of Malaya has a long tradition of drug related research, both basic and applied, involving various scientific fields such botany, phytochemistry, pharmacology and toxicology. Thus, Center for Natural Products Research and Drug Discovery or CENAR was established to provide mechanisms for interdisciplinary collaborations within the University of Malaya, and stimulate interactions with other institutions of higher learning and the industry.