Bioprospecting and natural products drug development for cancer treatment has become an important area. Most of the cancer chemotherapeutic agents are associated with toxicity towards normal cells and tissues. Optimal dosing of cancer chemotherapeutic agents is often limited because of severe non-myelosuppressive and myelosuppressive toxicities. It is a continuing challenge to design therapy that is safer, effective and selective. Cytoprotective agents offer opportunities to reduce treatment related toxicity of anticancer therapy without diminution of efficacy. None of the available agents satisfy criteria for an ideal cytoprotection. This has stimulated research for discovering natural resources with immunomodulatory and cytoprotective activities. This article describes chemical agents presently employed in clinical practice and reviews ethnopharmacological agents reported to have chemoprotective, radioprotective, immunomodulating, adaptogenic and antitumour activities.
Keywords: chemoprotection, cytoprotection, immunomodulation, radioprotection, cancer chemotherapy, ayurveda, withania somnifera
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