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Open AccessReview

The Multitarget Activity of Natural Extracts on Cancer: Synergy and Xenohormesis

Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular (IBMC) and Instituto de Investigación, Desarrollo e Innovación en Biotecnología Sanitaria de Elche (IDiBE), Universitas Miguel Hernández 03202 Elche, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Medicines 2019, 6(1), 6;
Received: 30 November 2018 / Revised: 18 December 2018 / Accepted: 24 December 2018 / Published: 28 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Compounds as New Cancer Treatments)
PDF [1287 KB, uploaded 28 December 2018]


It is estimated that over 60% of the approved drugs and new drug developments for cancer and infectious diseases are from natural origin. The use of natural compounds as a potential source of antitumor agents has been deeply studied in many cancer models, both in vitro and in vivo. Most of the Western medicine studies are based on the use of highly selective pure compounds with strong specificity for their targets such as colchicine or taxol. Nevertheless, approximately 60% of fairly specific drugs in their initial research fail because of toxicity or ineffectiveness in late-stage preclinical studies. Moreover, cancer is a multifaceted disease that in most cases deserves a polypharmacological therapeutic approach. Complex plant-derived mixtures such as natural extracts are difficult to characterize and hardly exhibit high pharmacological potency. However, in some cases, these may provide an advantage due to their multitargeted mode of action and potential synergistic behavior. The polypharmacology approach appears to be a plausible explanation for the multigargeted mechanism of complex natural extracts on different proteins within the same signalling pathway and in several biochemical pathways at once. This review focuses on the different aspects of natural extracts in the context of anticancer activity drug development, with special attention to synergy studies and xenohormesis. View Full-Text
Keywords: cancer; natural compound; synergy; xenohormesis; polypharmacology cancer; natural compound; synergy; xenohormesis; polypharmacology

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Herranz-López, M.; Losada-Echeberría, M.; Barrajón-Catalán, E. The Multitarget Activity of Natural Extracts on Cancer: Synergy and Xenohormesis. Medicines 2019, 6, 6.

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