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Front Biosci (Schol Ed). 2012 Jan 1;4:142-56.

Discovery of new anticancer agents from higher plants.

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Division of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy, College of Pharmacy, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


Small organic molecules derived from higher plants have been one of the mainstays of cancer chemotherapy for approximately the past half a century. In the present review, selected single chemical entity natural products of plant origin and their semi-synthetic derivatives currently in clinical trials are featured as examples of new cancer chemotherapeutic drug candidates. Several more recently isolated compounds obtained from plants showing promising in vivo biological activity are also discussed in terms of their potential as anticancer agents, with many of these obtained from species that grow in tropical regions. Since extracts of only a relatively small proportion of the ca. 300,000 higher plants on earth have been screened biologically to date, bioactive compounds from plants should play an important role in future anticancer drug discovery efforts.

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