Anticancer agents in Medicinal Chemistry

Anticancer, or antineoplastic, drugs are used to cure malignancies or cancerous growths. Drug therapy may be used alone or in combination with other treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy, the use of natural products has been the single most successful strategy in the discovery of novel medicines.

Plants need to defend themselves from attack by micro-organisms, fungi, and they do this by producing anti-fungal chemicals that are toxic to fungi. Because fungal and human cells are similar at a biochemical level it is often the case that chemical compounds intended for plant defense have an inhibitory effect on human cells, including human cancer cells. Those plant chemicals that are selectively more toxic to cancer cells than normal cells have been discovered in screening programs and developed as chemotherapy drugs.

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