Over the last 5 decades, biologically active compounds derived from natural resources have provided a number of useful cancer chemotherapeutic drugs. The search for natural product based drug candidates is growing rapidly with the advancements in drug discovery and development techniques in recent years, with the active fractions and isolates of marine organisms along with terrestrial plants. Microorganisms are also being explored for their anti-cancer activities. The present review highlights the information about occurrence, types, clinical features pathophysiology and etiology of cancer as well as conventional and recent advancements in anticancer drug development along with description of selected medicinal plants and compounds derived from natural sources or their derivatives with potential use as cancer chemotherapeutic agents. It is expected that such promising leads from natural origin tend to create extensive interest among researchers including medicinal chemists and pharmacologists working in anticancer drug research and therefore the availability of a given brief information about cancer and anticancer drug development focused on natural product may be proved useful to develop preliminary ideas of biochemical pathways and key enzymes regulating these pathways as well as new targets involved in different stages of the disease along with chemotherapeutic agents which selectively target a specific signaling pathway through structure-activity relationships and preclinical trials.
Keywords: Anticancer, Chemotherapy, Drug development, Grafts, Medicinal plants, Natural products.