To follow were nature leads: revolution in the development of new drugs

Professor Erminio Costa said in the last century:

“Looking at the complexity of the synaptic regulation variability, it is appealing to consider the idea of the discovery of new drugs for use in the nervous system, orientates the focus and efforts towards a biological modulation mechanisms, while learning from the nature how to design a pharmacology of modulation. Even if the success could not be immediate nor easy, these new drugs will be developed taking into account the assumptions that are continuously shaped and clarified by the basic research.”


Follow were nature leads

Follow were nature leads

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Professor Erminio Costa: ‘to follow were nature leads’.

to follow were nature leads

to follow were nature leads

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montalcini & costa 5

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Dr Costa’s heritage: to follow where nature leads

In 1986 Professor Costa delivered a keynote lecture in Washington, bearing the title ‘to follow where nature leads’. In this lecture Erminio Costa talked with great vision about how nature itself can become our tutor in developing new drugs.

Aspects like synaptic plasticity and modulation, as well as related highly modern topics were already extensively discussed hy him. He pointed out that new innovative ways are in need to be explored, by leaving old monocausal scemes of thinking. New compounds will emerge based on this innovative strategy of

‘to following where nature leads’

It was exactly this focus which brought Levi-Montalcini to focus on nature’s great modulating fatty-amide molecule palmitoylethanolamide, as an important compound for the clinic. Palmitoylethanolamide now serves many patients as a useful and valuable analgesic and anti-inflammatory compound.

The ideas of Eriminio Costa were taken up in a new way by the Nobel laureates Rita Levi Montalcini and Gerald Edelmann, who both together, with professor Costa founded the International Scool of Neuroscience of Praglia (Padova, Italy) in 1988. This school of neuroscience brought the work of cutting-edge neuroscientists to a large audience of graduate students to expose them to the newest advances in the field.


E. Costa, An early attempt to foster neuroscience globalization. An autobiography, Good Life Press, Nashville (2003)

E Costa, etc , Gerald M Edelman, Rita Levi Montalcini: Proceedings of the Course on Developmental Neurobiology, Thieme Publishing Group, 1992

Rita Levi-Montalcini: The Hourglass of Life, The Dana Press, 2011

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