Nine of the current top-20 drugs, with annual sales of around $16.5 billion, are derived from or based on natural products. Many of the anticancer drugs currently being used or currently being developed were originally derived from nature, mostly from plants. For some other anticancer drugs, nature provided the initial lead from which the analogs were prepared and developed into new drugs.
Knowledge of traditional medicine affords a valuable approach to the development of new anticancer drugs. The search for plant species related to those used in folk medicine using chemotaxonomic principles is another successful approach for developing new drugs. A fair number of anticancer drugs currently on the market were developed based upon their use in traditional medicine as a folk remedy, although not all of them were known to be active against cancer. This section of the chapter covers the natural supplements that are currently being used as treatments against cancers or other diseases. Note, however, that these products are also the original source for the development of important anticancer drugs currently in the market.
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