Phytochemicals With Anticancer Properties.
There is a serious concern regarding cancer at the present time. In spite of the availability of several interventions, many patients die from cancer illnesses each year. The trending research direction in healthcare pharmacy is to develop an anticancer therapy that is effective and free of side effects. Plant chemicals have proven to be very useful in this regard.
Bioactive phytochemicals are preferred as they act differentially on cancer cells only, without affecting normal cells. Multiple signaling events are involved in carcinogenesis. A phytochemical has a pleiotropic function and targets these events in multiple ways; therefore, it is the most suitable candidate for the development of anticancer drugs.
The development of lead candidates from phytochemicals that are capable of inhibiting or retarding the growth of cancer is in progress. In vitro as well as in vivo, several phytochemicals possess anticancer properties.
Plant-Based Cancer Treatment
Taking a look back at the past in order to find the future. A Sumerian clay slab from Nagpur, India, written approximately 5000 years ago, describes the use of plant material as medicine. This article discusses the use of recent days’ popular poppy, henbane, and mandrake as therapeutics. Next, the earliest evidence of medicinal plants was found in ancient Chinese literature written by Emperor Shen Nung approximately 2500 years ago.
As part of a continuous historical effort, Theophrastus, known as “the father of botany,” was the first to establish botanical science, detailed in his book “De Causis Plantarum,” and classified several hundred medicinal plants. Pedanius Dioscorides, a well-known Greek physician, pharmacologist, and botanist, wrote a five-volume book titled “De Materia Medica” that discusses the medicinal use of plants. He was hired as a physician by the Roman army after his book and research were enormously successful.
During the Islamic Golden Age, Muslim scholars continued the legacy of Roman imperial medicine on the study of medicinal plants. In his book “Liber Magnae Collectionis Simplicum Alimentorum Et Medicamentorum”, Islamic scholar Ibn Baitar describes more than a thousand medicinal plants. As a result of Carl Linnaeus’s classification system, which is described in his book Species Plantarum, we have gained knowledge of medicinal plants from ancient literature and texts.
With the advent of advanced synthetic chemistry in the early 19th century, we were able to decipher the mechanism, isolate and synthesize active compounds from popular medicinal plants such as poppy, ipecacuanha, strychnos, quinine, and pomegranate. Despite the enriched history of medicinal plants and their success, research on medicinal plants did not progress as anticipated during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. On the topic of drug development, there has been a significant shift from plant chemistry to synthetic chemistry
Recent years have seen a shift in the gears. A Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine was given to Tu Youyou in 2015 for her discovery of artemisinin and dihydroartemisinin as antimalarial drugs and for highlighting the importance of plant-based components in drug discovery. Tu Youyou became a member of that project to find an antimalarial treatment, and she screened over 2,000 traditional herbal medicines and discovered the recipe for Artemisia annua . In spite of the fact that traditional herbal medicines are not isolated cases, they represent a small part of the arsenal of potential drugs derived from plants.
Because of this, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), USA, has concentrated its efforts on finding therapeutic agents for cancer treatment based on plant-based compounds. As part of the NCI’s Cancer MoonshotSM project, which aims to accelerate cancer research by making more cancer therapeutics available to patients, phytochemicals are being explored. Researchers have developed a repertoire of natural products and their purified chemical components in order to find new anticancer drugs as a result of this project. Several plant-based compounds have been reported to have anticancer activity, and a number of these compounds have also been clinically effective. Here are a few important phytochemicals that I have summarized.
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