Natural products in cancer chemotherapy: past, present and future

Nat Rev Cancer. 2002 Feb;2(2):143-8. doi: 10.1038/nrc723.


Natural products have been the mainstay of cancer chemotherapy for the past 30 years. However, the quickening pace of (aberrant) gene identification, and the new technologies of combinatorial chemistry and high-throughput screening, should provide access to a wide range of new, totally synthetic drugs. Will these new approaches sound the death knell for therapies based on natural products? In reality, natural products are likely to provide many of the lead structures, and these will be used as templates for the construction of novel compounds with enhanced biological properties.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Products / isolation & purification
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Design
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / trends*
  • Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Biological Products
  • Plant Extracts