Marine natural products: A source of novel anticancer drugs

Shaden A.M. Khalifa, Nizar Elias, Mohamed A. Farag, Lei Chen, Aamer Saeed, Mohamed Elamir F. Hegazy, Moustafa S. Moustafa, Aida Abd El-Wahed, Saleh M. Al-Mousawi, Syed G. Musharraf, Fang Rong Chang, Arihiro Iwasaki, Kiyotake Suenaga, Muaaz Alajlani, Ulf Göransson, Hesham R. El-Seedi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

340 Citations (Scopus)


Cancer remains one of the most lethal diseases worldwide. There is an urgent need for new drugs with novel modes of action and thus considerable research has been conducted for new anticancer drugs from natural sources, especially plants, microbes and marine organisms. Marine populations represent reservoirs of novel bioactive metabolites with diverse groups of chemical structures. This review highlights the impact of marine organisms, with particular emphasis on marine plants, algae, bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, sponges and soft corals. Anti-cancer effects of marine natural products in in vitro and in vivo studies were first introduced; their activity in the prevention of tumor formation and the related compound-induced apoptosis and cytotoxicities were tackled. The possible molecular mechanisms behind the biological effects are also presented. The review highlights the diversity of marine organisms, novel chemical structures, and chemical property space. Finally, therapeutic strategies and the present use of marine-derived components, its future direction and limitations are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number491
JournalMarine Drugs
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Aug 23


  • Anticancer
  • Antitumor
  • Clinical trials
  • Cytotoxic
  • Drugs
  • Marine
  • Microorganism
  • Plants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics (miscellaneous)


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