Since ancient times, natural products (NPs) have been used as anti-infectives, anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, analgesics and antitumorals and many compounds derived from NPs are in clinical use. The use of plants in traditional medicine for multiple purposes is well known, and throughout recent history, metabolites of microbial origin have had an extraordinary impact on the welfare of humanity. There is an outstanding diversity of chemical structures that nature, and especially microorganisms, are able to produce, due to millenniums of evolution. Since only a small amount of the world’s biodiversity has been evaluated for potential biological activity, many more useful natural lead compounds await discovery, the challenge being how to access this natural chemical diversity. However, the validation and selection of primary screening assays, both phenotypic and target-based, are vital to guaranteeing a selection of extracts or molecules with relevant pharmacological action. The screening of antitumor agents against pancreatic cancer (PC) involves the use of established cell lines, cancer stem cells and spheroids that mimic the patient’s tumor. Improvements in the discovery of natural products along with the emergence of new technologies in cancer screening assays, promise the discovery of new and valuable drugs to tackle pancreatic cancer in the coming years.
Part of the book: Advances in Pancreatic Cancer