FASEB Releases Its Second Breakthroughs in Bioscience Article of a Two-Part Series on Natural Cures – Allison Lea
Created by on 5/2/2013 12:00:00 AM

This past month, FASEB released the latest edition of its Breakthroughs in Bioscience series, titled “Conquering Cancer with Drugs from Nature’s Medicine Cabinet,” which is the second of a two-part series discussing the basic research foundations of the development of natural product-derived medicines (see part one here). This recent article, as its title identifies, looks specifically at anticancer drugs that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as those still under development.

In 1992, the FDA approved the drug Taxol, which derives from the Pacific yew tree, and has increased the five-year survival rate of patients with metastatic ovarian cancer from 20 to 80 percent. Further research over the past two decades however, has developed a more sophisticated therapy, called antibody-drug conjugates, which targets specific cancer cells without harming normal cells. In 2011, Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin), which is derived from marine life, was approved to treat two types of lymphoma and is currently in clinical trials to treat many more. In fact, there have been seven marine-sourced compounds that have been approved to treat cancer, while an additional seven more are currently under development.

While discoveries such as these are important and have saved countless lives, this year alone, 500 thousand Americans will die from a form of cancer. Clearly, researchers still have long way to go before they can declare a victory against the “war on cancer.” Although, it is quite probable many of these to-be-discovered therapeutics will be derived from natural products.

To read more of this series, visit the FASEB Breakthroughs in Bioscience website at http://www.faseb.org/break-throughs.