Cancer is a life-threatening disease and is the second leading cause of death around the world. The increasing threats of drug-resistant cancers indicate that there is an urgent need for the improvement or development of more effective anticancer agents. Curcumin, a phenolic compound originally derived from turmeric plant (Curcuma longa
L. (Zingiberaceae family)) widely known as a spice and a coloring agent for food have been reported to possess notable anticancer activity by inhibiting the proliferation and metastasis, and enhancing cell cycle arrest or apoptosis in various cancer cells. In spite of all these benefits, the therapeutic application of curcumin in clinical medicine and its bioavailability are still limited due to its poor absorption and rapid metabolism. Structural modification of curcumin through the synthesis of curcumin-based derivatives is a potential approach to overcome the above limitations. Curcumin derivatives can overcome the disadvantages of curcumin while enhancing the overall efficacy and hindering drug resistance. This article reports a review of published curcumin derivatives and their enhanced anticancer activities.
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