Parthenolide (PTL), a sesquiterpene lactone (SL) originally purified from the shoots of feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), has shown potent anticancer and anti-inflammatory activities. It is currently being tested in cancer clinical trials. Structure-activity relationship (SAR) studies of parthenolide revealed key chemical properties required for biological activities and epigenetic mechanisms, and led to the derivatization of an orally bioavailable analog, dimethylamino-parthenolide (DMAPT). Parthenolide is the first small molecule found to be selective against cancer stem cells (CSC), which it achieves by targeting specific signaling pathways and killing cancer from its roots. In this review, we highlight the exciting journey of parthenolide, from plant shoots to cancer roots.
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