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Cancers (Basel). 2020 Mar 13;12(3). pii: E673. doi: 10.3390/cancers12030673.

Natural Compounds with Potential to Modulate Cancer Therapies and Self-Reactive Immune Cells.

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School of Health and Biomedical Sciences, RMIT, Bundoora 3083, Australia.


Cancer-related deaths are approaching 10 million each year. Survival statistics for some cancers, such as ovarian cancer, have remained unchanged for decades, with women diagnosed at stage III or IV having over 80% chance of a lethal cancer recurrence after standard first-line treatment (reductive surgery and chemotherapy). New treatments and adjunct therapies are needed. In ovarian cancer, as in other cancers, the immune response, particularly cytotoxic (CD8+) T cells are correlated with a decreased risk of recurrence. As well as completely new antigen targets resulting from DNA mutations (neo-antigens), these T cells recognize cancer-associated overexpressed, re-expressed or modified self-proteins. However, there is concern that activation of self-reactive responses may also promote off-target pathology. This review considers the complex interplay between cancer-reactive and self-reactive immune cells and discusses the potential uses for various leading immunomodulatory compounds, derived from plant-based sources, as a cancer therapy option or to modulate potential autoimmune pathology. Along with reviewing well-studied compounds such as curcumin (from turmeric), epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG, from green tea) and resveratrol (from grapes and certain berries), it is proposed that compounds from novel sources, for example, native Australian plants, will provide a useful source for the fine modulation of cancer immunity in patients.


immune response; immunotherapy; native Australian plants; natural compounds; ovarian cancer; self-reactive

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