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J Med Chem. 2015 Aug 13;58(15):5699-727. doi: 10.1021/jm501180v. Epub 2015 Apr 16.

Progress Toward the Development of Noscapine and Derivatives as Anticancer Agents.

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Medicinal Chemistry, Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University (Parkville Campus), 381 Royal Parade, Parkville, Victoria 3052 Australia.


Many nitrogen-moiety containing alkaloids derived from plant origins are bioactive and play a significant role in human health and emerging medicine. Noscapine, a phthalideisoquinoline alkaloid derived from Papaver somniferum, has been used as a cough suppressant since the mid 1950s, illustrating a good safety profile. Noscapine has since been discovered to arrest cells at mitosis, albeit with moderately weak activity. Immunofluorescence staining of microtubules after 24 h of noscapine exposure at 20 μM elucidated chromosomal abnormalities and the inability of chromosomes to complete congression to the equatorial plane for proper mitotic separation ( Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 1998 , 95 , 1601 - 1606 ). A number of noscapine analogues possessing various modifications have been described within the literature and have shown significantly improved antiprolific profiles for a large variety of cancer cell lines. Several semisynthetic antimitotic alkaloids are emerging as possible candidates as novel anticancer therapies. This perspective discusses the advancing understanding of noscapine and related analogues in the fight against malignant disease.

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