Natural Products as Anti-Cancer Drugs

Dietary sources of natural products are assumed to have anti-cancer benefits include fruits, vegetables and spices yielding biologically active components such as curcumin, resveratrol, cucurbitacins, isoflavones, saponins, phytosterols, lycopene, and many others. A number of these are gaining importance as adjuvant anti-cancer agents with curcumin, resveratrol and cucurbitacins having activity reported against cancer stem cells.  39 natural compounds from marine species, mostly invertebrates, and 10 from microorganisms, mostly from bacteria of the Streptomyces genus, as potential new anti-cancer agents. It is assumed that many prokaryotic and eukaryotic natural product sources may still reveal a number of valuable anti-cancer compounds in the future and even ancient animal species have been suggested as a particularly valuable source.

Cancer is a well-recognized global health problem responsible for 7.6 million deaths (13% of all deaths) worldwide, which is expected to rise to 13.1 million by 2030 Despite the progress in the field of cancer research, both developing and developed countries are in the grip of this deadly disease, and still there is a need to discover and develop anti-cancer therapeutic agents. It has long been recognized that natural products represent the richest source of high chemical diversity, providing the basis for identification of novel scaffold structures that serves as starting points for rational drug design. This can be one of the reasons that efforts have been directed to discover promising cancer therapeutic agents from natural sources. Over the years, many natural product-based drugs have been introduced in the market. According to a recent review, 49% of drugs were either natural products or their derivatives that are used in cancer treatment. Moreover, between the year 2005 and 2010, 19 natural product-based drugs have been approved, among which 7, 10 and 2 have been classified as natural product (NP), semi-synthetic NPs and NP-derived drugs, respectively. Of these, five drugs, temsirolimus, trabectedin, ixabepilone, everolimus and romidepsin, have been developed in the area of oncology from 2007 to 2009. Indeed, it has been suggested that less than one-fifth of the ring systems found in natural products are represented in current trade drugs 

The plant based drug discovery resulted mainly in the development of anticancer agents including plants (vincristine, vinblastine, etoposide, paclitaxel, camptothecin, topotecan and irinotecan), marine organisms (citarabine, aplidine and dolastatin 10) and micro-organisms (dactinomycin, bleomycin and doxorubicin). Beside this there is numerous agents identified from fruits and vegetables can used in anticancer therapy. Plants have a long history of use in the treatment of cancer and it is significant that over 60% of currently used anti-cancer agents are come from natural sources. Nature is an attractive source of new therapeutic candidate compounds as a tremendous chemical diversity is found in millions of species of plants, animals, marine organisms and microorganisms as potential anti-cancer agent.

  • Marine organisms having antineoplastic activity
  • Potent alkaloidal neurotoxins
  • Polyketide neurotoxins
  • Preclinical anticancer lead compounds
  • Multitude of mixed biogenesis metabolites
  • In vitro and in vivo anticancer and antioxidant assays

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