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Natural products targeting cancer cell dependency

Abstract

Precision cancer medicine is a tailored treatment approach for individual cancer patients with different genomic characteristics. Mutated or hyperactive oncogenes have served as main drug targets in current precision cancer medicine, while defective or inactivated tumor suppressors in general have not been considered as druggable targets. Synthetic lethality is one of very few approaches that enable to target defective tumor suppressors with pharmacological agents. Synthetic lethality exploits cancer cell dependency on a protein or pathway, which arises when the function of a tumor suppressor is defective. This approach has been proven to be effective in clinical settings since the successful clinical introduction of BRCA-PARP synthetic lethality for the treatment of breast and ovarian cancer with defective BRCA. Subsequently, large-scale screenings with RNAi, CRISPR/Cas9-sgRNAs, and chemical libraries have been applied to identify synthetic lethal partners of tumor suppressors. Natural products are an important source for the discovery of pharmacologically active small molecules. However, little effort has been made in the discovery of synthetic lethal small molecules from natural products. This review introduces recent advances in the discovery of natural products targeting cancer cell dependency and discusses potentials of natural products in the precision cancer medicine.

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Acknowledgements

This study was supported by the Science and Technology Development Fund, Macau SAR (FDCT/0107/2020/A1 and FDCT/0030/2020/A to J.S.S.) and Multi-Year Research Grant, University of Macau (MYRG2019-00116-FHS and MYRG2020-00229-FHS to J.S.S).

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Correspondence to Joong Sup Shim.

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Shi, C., Yang, E.J., Tao, S. et al. Natural products targeting cancer cell dependency. J Antibiot 74, 677–686 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41429-021-00438-x

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