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Anticancer Drugs. 2019 Jan;30(1):1-18. doi: 10.1097/CAD.0000000000000697.

Artemisinin and its derivatives: a potential treatment for leukemia.

Lam NS1,2,3,4, Long X1,2, Wong JW5,6, Griffin RC7, Doery JCG3,6.

Author information

1
Zhongshan School of Medicine, Sun Yat-sen University.
2
Department of Haematology, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, Sun Yat-sen Institute of Hematology, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China.
3
Department of Pathology.
4
Department of Pharmacy.
5
Department of Haematology, Monash Medical Centre.
6
Department of Medicine, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria.
7
The Canberra Hospital, Woden Valley, Canberra, Australia.

Abstract

Artemisinin (ART) and its derivatives are one of the most important classes of antimalarial agents, originally derived from a Chinese medicinal plant called Artemisia annua L. Beyond their outstanding antimalarial and antischistosomal activities, ART and its derivatives also possess both in-vitro and in-vivo activities against various types of cancer. Their anticancer effects range from initiation of apoptotic cell death to inhibition of cancer proliferation, metastasis and angiogenesis, and even modulation of the cell signal transduction pathway. This review provides a comprehensive update on ART and its derivatives, their mechanisms of action, and their synergistic effects with other chemicals in targeting leukemia cells. Combined with limited evidence of drug resistance and low toxicity profile, we conclude that ART and its derivatives, including dimers, trimers, and hybrids, might be a potential therapeutic alternative to current chemotherapies in combating leukemia, although more studies are necessary before they can be applied clinically.

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