Catharanthus roseus is a plant of the Apocynaceae family. It produces over 120 alkaloids, 70 of which are pharmacologically active. C. roseus produces vinblastine, utilized in treating Hodgkin’s disease; testicular tumors, breast carcinoma, choriocarcinoma, Kaposi sarcoma and Letterer-Siwe disorder. Vincristine is used to treat acute lymphocytic leukemia, lymphosarcoma, lympho-granulomatosis and in solid infant tumors. The preparation process of 1 kg of vincristine has a cost of US$ 3.5 million, while vinblastine has a cost of US$1 million. Therefore, 530 kg of dry leaves are necessary to produce 1 kg of vincristine and half a ton for getting 1 g of vinblastine. The high cost is due to the low concentrations in the aerial portion. Due to the high market value and its effectiveness in different medical treatments, this chapter deals with the pharmacological application of the C. roseus alkaloids.
Part of the book: Alkaloids