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Natural products and derivatives for breast cancer treatment: From drug discovery to molecular mechanism.

Phytomedicine 2024 April 8
BACKGROUND: Breast cancer stands as the most common malignancy among women globally and a leading cause of cancer-related mortality. Conventional treatments, such as surgery, hormone therapy, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and small-molecule targeted therapy, often fall short of addressing the complexity and heterogeneity of certain breast cancer subtypes, leading to drug resistance and metastatic progression. Thus, the search for novel therapeutic targets and agents is imperative. Given their low toxicity and abundant variety, natural products and their derivatives are increasingly considered valuable sources for small-molecule anticancer drugs.

PURPOSE: This review aims to elucidate the pharmacological impacts and underlying mechanisms of active compounds found in select natural products and their derivatives, primarily focusing on breast cancer treatment. It intends to underscore the potential of these substances in combating breast cancer and guide future research directions for the development of natural product-based therapeutics.

METHODS: We conducted comprehensive searches in electronic databases such as PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus until October 2023, using keywords such as 'breast cancer', 'natural products', 'derivatives', 'mechanism', 'signaling pathways', and various keyword combinations.

RESULTS: The review presents a spectrum of phytochemicals, including but not limited to flavonoids, polyphenols, and alkaloids, and examines their actions in various animal and cellular models of breast cancer. The anticancer effects of these natural products and derivatives are manifested through diverse mechanisms, including induction of cell death via apoptosis and autophagy, and suppression of tumor angiogenesis.

CONCLUSION: An increasing array of natural products and their derivatives are proving effective against breast cancer. Future therapeutic strategies can benefit from strategic enhancement of the anticancer properties of natural compounds, optimization for targeted action, improved bioavailability, and minimized side effects. The forthcoming research on natural products should prioritize these facets to maximize their therapeutic potential.

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