Plant bioactive compounds for pancreatic cancer prevention and treatment

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With the rapid advancements in medical research, diagnostic technology and increased public health initiative and awareness, overall cancer death rates in western societies are declining each year with the number of deaths from major cancers such as breast, colorectal and lung following this trend. However, the survival rate for those with pancreatic cancer has been at a standstill for over four decades and there are concerns that pancreatic cancer may become the second deadliest cancer in the US by the year 2030. The diagnosis of pancreatic cancer has dire consequences as it presents late in its course and is rapidly progressive. This is clearly one of the most devastating of human cancers, and as there are very few treatment options for those with the disease, new approaches and novel therapeutic strategies are urgently required. For thousands of years, plants have been used as traditional indigenous remedies for a variety of ailments in many parts of the world. It is thought that approximately 80% of the rural population worldwide still relies on plants as medicines. Plants have assumed the greatest prominence as a source of medicinal compounds with thousands of species associated with the treatment of cancers or conditions with cancer-like symptoms. Scientific evaluation of a range of traditional medicines has lead to the development of highly effective cancer therapeutic agents, and it is estimated that approximately 50% of all pharmaceuticals currently available for administration are still derived from natural origins. With this in mind, within the plant kingdom there remains great potential for the development of novel therapeutic agents with significant efficacy against pancreatic cancer. With our increasing understanding of the molecular pathology of pancreatic cancer and the rapid advancement of DNA sequencing technology to understand the structure of the genome and infer biology, pancreatic cancer is one of the most appropriate diseases to test multiple novel plant derived therapeutics in a molecular phenotype driven personalized approach. In this book, we aim to highlight the challenges of therapeutic efficacy facing pancreatic cancer patients as well as providing up-to-date information concerning the heterogeneity of pancreatic cancer and the consequent hurdles for therapeutic development. We describe the development of plant derived compounds into clinically used anti-cancer agents; a concise history of plant phytochemicals as traditional medicines, as well as their numerous health benefits; a summary of the bioactive composition of plants and plant foods; their extraction and isolation methods; the synthetic complexities and strategies for selected chemotherapeutic agents for pancreatic cancer; as well as an overview of medicinal plants with anti-cancer properties from selected regions around the world. It is clear that the plant-derived compounds described in this book represent a mere tip of the iceberg when it comes to the thousands of plant species with potential medicinal efficacy. However we hope to enlighten our readers on the issues and complexities concerning the effective treatment of pancreatic cancer and identify the realistic potential for the development of novel therapeutic agents derived from plants.




Scarlett, C. J., & Vuong, Q. V. (2014). Plant bioactive compounds for pancreatic cancer prevention and treatment. Plant Bioactive Compounds for Pancreatic Cancer Prevention and Treatment (pp. 1–323). Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

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