In the 1950s and early 1960s, the investigation of plant (Compositae family) metabolites made the Department one of the world centers in the area of natural product chemistry with many priorities in the identification and structure determination of natural products. The discovery in chamomile of an anti-inflammatory sesquiterpene, chamazulene, initiated the original synthesis of its derivative, guaiazulene I (1,4-dimethyl-7-isopropylazulene) and finally resulted in the preparation of DERMAZULEN, a commercial ointment with anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, and antiseptic properties, still available today.
An investigation of insect hormones and hormone analogues, and the search for the potential of their use as an alternative means of insect pest control was another area in which the DNP obtained international recognition. A large array of juvenile hormone analogues (juvenoids) synthesized in the institute has been investigated for their effect on the physiology, development, reproduction and behavior of insects. This extensive research had led to the development of several new technologies that were field-tested and some have been patented and applied. Most notably, a technique based on the juvenoid methoprene against the pharaoh’s ant (Monomorium pharaonis) was designed. A widely-used commercial preparation LAFAREX®, which locally exterminated this troublesome pest, was an outcome of this research.