Natural Anticancer drugs and Recent Developments in it

About Authors:
Kaushal Chovatiya, D.R. Mundhada
Agnihotri College of Pharmacy, Wardha,
Maharashtra, India.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide. Conventional cancer therapies cause serious side effects and, at best, merely extend the patient’s lifespan by a few years. Cancer control may therefore benefit from the potential that resides in alternative therapies. The demand to utilize alternative concepts or approaches to the treatment of cancer is therefore escalating. There is compelling evidence from epidemiological and experimental studies that highlight the importance of compounds derived from plants “phytochemicals” to reduce the risk of colon cancer and inhibit the development and spread of tumors in experimental animals. More than 25% of drugs used during the last 20 years are directly derived from plants, while the other 25% are chemically altered natural products. Still, only 5-15% of the approximately 250,000 higher plants have ever been investigated for bioactive compounds. The advantage of using such compounds for cancer treatment is their relatively non-toxic nature and availability in an ingestive form. An ideal phytochemical is one that possesses anti-tumor properties with minimal toxicity and has a defined mechanism of action. As compounds that target specific signaling pathways are identified, researchers can envisage novel therapeutic approaches as well as a better understanding of the pathways involved in disease progression. Plant derived compounds have played an important role in the development of several clinically useful anticancer agents. Several anticancer agents including taxol, vinblastine, vincristine and topotecan are in clinical use all over the world. A number of promising agents such as combrestatin, betulinic acid and silvesterol are in clinical or preclinical development.An attempt has been made to review some medicinal plants used for the prevention and treatment of cancer and recent state of development of anticancer drugs regarding Natural Products.

Reference ID: PHARMATUTOR-ART-1186

“Cancer" is the term we give to a large group of diseases that vary in type and location but have one thing in common: abnormal cells growing out of control.” Under normal circumstances the number and growth of all our cells is a highly controlled mechanism. But when the control signals in one of these cells goes wrong, and its life cycle becomes disturbed, it divides and divides. It continues multiplying uncontrollably, and the result of this accumulation of abnormal cells is a mass of cells called a "tumor". A tumor can be either benign (do not spread to other part of body) or malignant (spreads to other parts of body).There are particularly two important families of genes related to cancer. Oncogenesare mutated forms of genes that cause normal cells to grow out of control and become cancer cells. They are mutations of certain normal genes of the cell called protooncogenes. Proto-oncogenes are the genes that normally control how often a cell divides and the degree to which it differentiates (or specializes).Tumor suppressor genesare normal genes that slow down cell division, repair DNA errors, and tell cells when to die (a process known as apoptosis or programmed cell death). When tumor suppressor genes don’t work properly, cells can grow out of control, which can lead to cancer.

 Major  types  of  cancer:

Prostate Cancer
Breast Cancer
Bladder Cancers
Colorectal Cancers
Brain Tumours
Soft Tissue Sarcomas
Germ Cell Tumours
Kidney Cancers
Lung Cancer
Liver Cancer
And Others

The most common cancer risk factors are:

  • Genetic predisposition-- Certain types of cancer, such as colon and breast cancer, often run in families. It is only the predisposition to cancer that is inherited. Other non-genetic (e.g. environmental) factors must be present for the cancer to develop. Having a family history of cancer does not necessarily mean you will develop cancer, but does however mean that you are at a higher risk. Knowing the risk factors and managing them can help prevent cancer.
  • Estrogen exposure (women)-- A woman is at increased risk for some gynecological cancers (e.g. breast or uterine cancer) if her system is exposed to too much estrogen, as this stimulates cell proliferation in these tissues. Factors that contribute to higher estrogen exposure include early menstruation and late menopause. The risk is reduced in women who have had a baby before the age of 35. Other factors that can reduce the risk include regular exercise and a low-fat diet.
  • Ionizing radiation-- Overexposure to ionizing radiation, such as X rays and nuclear radiation, can cause DNA injury that may lead to cancer.
  • Ultraviolet radiationis the radiation from the sun. Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays damage cell DNA and cause 90 percent of all skin cancers. Prevention involves reducing sun exposure, wearing protective clothing and applying a sunscreen with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) number.
  • Carcinogenic chemicals-- Chemical carcinogens such as asbestos, benzene, formaldehyde, and diesel exhaust are dangerous in high concentrations.
  • Tobacco smoke-- Smoking causes 30 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States, making tobacco smoke the single most lethal carcinogen. Smoking can cause cancers in the lungs and other organs. The best way to lower the risk of lung and other cancers is to quit smoking, or never start, and to avoid exposure to secondhand smoke if you are a non-smoker.
  • Alcohol-- People who drink alcohol heavily have a higher risk of mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, and liver cancer.
  • Carcinogenic foods-- There are certain foods that contain carcinogens. Foods that should be limited include salted, pickled, and smoked foods, such as pickles or smoked fish, and meats treated with nitrites. Foods that should be eliminated from the diet include meats that have been charred over a grill, as the charred area is carcinogenic. Taking Vitamin C, either through the diet or by supplementation, may protect against the cancer-causing effects of carcinogenic foods.
  • Unhealthy diet-- A diet high in saturated fat (especially from red meat) is associated with several different types of cancer, including cancer of the colon, rectum, and prostate gland. Risk can be reduced by reducing dietary fat in the diet, and by eating more soy-based foods, fiber, fruit and vegetables.
  • Free radicalsare dangerous, highly reactive chemical compounds that can damage DNA and lead to cancer. They can be generated in a number of ways, including oxidation of polyunsaturated fats. Antioxidants (such as Vitamin A and C) taken through supplementation, or a diet high in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, can reduce the risk.