Although fungi produce highly structurally diverse metabolites, many of which have served as excellent sources of pharmaceuticals, no fungi-derived agent has been approved as a cancer drug so far. This is despite a tremendous amount of research being aimed at the identification of fungal metabolites with promising anticancer activities. This review discusses the results of clinical testing of fungal metabolites and their synthetic derivatives, with the goal to evaluate how far we are from an approved cancer drug of fungal origin. Also, because in vivo studies in animal models are predictive of the efficacy and toxicity of a given compound in a clinical situation, literature describing animal cancer testing of compounds of fungal origin is reviewed as well. Agents showing the potential to advance to clinical trials are also identified. Finally, the technological challenges involved in the exploitation of fungal biodiversity and procurement of sufficient quantities of clinical candidates are discussed, and potential solutions that could be pursued by researchers are highlighted.
Keywords: anguidine; aphidicolin; clinical trials; drug resistance; fumagillin; fungal metabolites; illudin S; phenylahistin; rhizoxin; wortmannin.
© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.