Examples of inhibitors of chromatin function derived from flowering plants (Fig. 80) are etoposide (lignan) and alkaloids camptothecin, Vinca alkaloids, and 7 epitaxol. The rhizome of Podophyllum peltatum L. (May apple, Berberidaceae) has been used to remove warts and to relieve the bowels from costiveness since very early times. It contains podophyllo-toxin, a cytotoxic lignan from which etoposide (Vepesid®), which is used to treat lung cancer, lymphomas, and leukemias on account of its ability to inhibit the activity of
From: Ethnopharmacology ofMedicinal Plants: Asia and the Pacific Edited by: C. Wiart © Humana Press Inc., Totowa, NJ
topoisomerase, has been semisynthetically developed Attempts to verify the reputed antidiabetic property of Catharanthus roseus G. Don (periwinkle, Apocynaceae) in the 1960s led first to the observation by Canadian workers that leaf extract caused leucopenia in rats.
Researchers from Eli Lilly pharmaceuticals, (a company founded in 1876 by Colonel Eli Lilly veteran of the US Civil War), undertook further intensive phytochemical studies and characterized 60 alkaloids, of which a group of 20 binary indole alkaloids—including vincristine and vinblastine. Vinblastine sulphate (Velbe®) inhibits the polymerization of tubulin and is used to treat generalized Hodgkin's disease and chorionepithelioma, whereas vincristine sulphate (Oncovin®) is used to treat leukemia in children.
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