Camptothecin is a monoterpenoid quinoline alkaloid that is also known to occur in the subclass Rosidae: Camptotheca acuminata Decsne. (family Nyssaceae, order Cornales), and Nothapodytes fetida (Wight.) Sleum. (family Icacinaceae, order Celastrales); and the Asteridae: Ophiorrhiza mungos L. (Rubiaceae). Camptothecin was found to inhibit topoisomerase and to be active against experimental tumors; however, initial clinical trials showed little response and severe cystitis, but more effective analogs were developed, such as irinotecan (Campto®). Cancer chemotherapy alone, however, is not very effective in producing long-term survival or treating the most common solid tumors, and the need for new anticancer drugs is critical.
A possible source for chemotherapeutic agents is the medicinal flora of the Asia-Pacific region. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a fundamental approach to understanding the potential of the medicinal flora of this region as a source of new anticancer drugs.
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