Harnessing the fruits of nature for the development of multi-targeted cancer therapeutics

Cancer Treat Rev. 2009 Nov;35(7):597-607. doi: 10.1016/j.ctrv.2009.07.001. Epub 2009 Aug 5.

Abstract

Cancer cells exhibit deregulation in multiple cellular signaling pathways. Therefore, treatments using specific agents that target only one pathway usually fail in cancer therapy. The combination treatments using chemotherapeutic agents with distinct molecular mechanisms are considered more promising for higher efficacy; however, using multiple agents contributes to added toxicity. Emerging evidence has shown that some "natural products" such as isoflavones, indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and its in vivo dimeric product 3,3'-diindolylmethane (DIM), and curcumin among many others, have growth inhibitory and apoptosis inducing effects on human and animal cancer cells mediated by targeting multiple cellular signaling pathways in vitro without causing unwanted toxicity in normal cells. Therefore, these non-toxic "natural products" from natural resources could be useful in combination with conventional chemotherapeutic agents for the treatment of human malignancies with lower toxicity and higher efficacy. In fact, recently increasing evidence from pre-clinical in vivo studies and clinical trials have shown some success in support of the use of rational design of multi-targeted therapies for the treatment of cancers using conventional chemotherapeutic agents in combination with "natural products". These studies have provided promising results and further opened-up newer avenues for cancer therapy. In this review article, we have succinctly summarized the known effects of "natural products" especially by focusing on isoflavones, indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and its in vivo dimeric product 3,3'-diindolylmethane (DIM), and curcumin, and provided a comprehensive view on the molecular mechanisms underlying the principle of cancer therapy using combination of "natural products" with conventional therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Biological Products / pharmacology*
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use
  • Curcumin / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Indoles / pharmacology
  • Isoflavones / pharmacology
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*

Substances

  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biological Products
  • Indoles
  • Isoflavones
  • indole-3-carbinol
  • Curcumin