Production of Anticancer Secondary Metabolites: Impacts of Bioprocess Engineering
Pp. 215-240 (26)
Sajjad Khani, Jaleh Barar, Ali Movafeghi and Yadollah Omidi
Higher plants produce a wide spectrum of secondary metabolites that have been used as
sources of a large number of industrial products (e.g. agricultural chemicals and pharmaceuticals).
Although some of the natural products have been replaced by synthetic substitutes because of cost
considerations, a number of medicinally important high value chemicals are still being extracted from
plants. These products are used as intermediate/model compounds for chemical synthesis of many
potent analogues/pharmaceuticals. Various natural products are used as antitumour agents or for the
synthesis of antitumour agents. Of note, the readily available baccatin III have been exploited for the
synthesis of paclitaxel by coupling baccatin III and the N-benzoyl-b-phenylisoserine side chain.
However, novel biotechnological approaches (e.g. cell based bioprocess engineering) appears to be the
best strategy since the extraction of natural products from plant sources may result in extinction of
medicinal plant species (e.g. Taxus species). In fact, this approach confers cost-effective technology for
the large-scale production of clinically/commercially important secondary metabolites such as
paclitaxel. Since the emergence of the tissue culture technology in early 1950s, it has been increasingly
advanced towards industrial production of secondary metabolites to overcome many problems
associated with such approach. Given the fact that the plant cells/tissue culture systems not only provide
means for biosynthesis of natural products but also serve as 'factories' for bioconversion of low value
compounds into high value products, in the current chapter, we will focus on impacts of this robust
technology regarding production of anticancer secondary metabolites.
Secondary metabolites, natural products, cancer, antitumor, bioprocess engineering, largescale
production, biosynthesis, semi-synthetic derivatives, biotechnology, precursor, cell culture, elicitation,
Research Centre for Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran