Affiliation: Chemical and Bioactivity Information Centre, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, University of Buea, P. O. Box 63, Buea, Cameroon.
Cancer is known to be the second most common disease-related cause of death among humans. In drug discovery programs anti-cancer chemotherapy remains quite challenging due to issues related to resistance. Plants used in traditional medicine are known to contribute significantly within a large proportion of the African population. A survey of the literature has led to the identification of ~400 compounds from African medicinal plants, which have shown anti-cancer, anti-proliferation, anti-tumor and/or cytotoxic activities, tested by in vitro and in vivo assays (from mildly active to very active), mainly alkaloids, terpenoids, flavonoids, coumarins, phenolics, polyacetylates, xanthones, quinones, steroids and lignans. The first part of this review series focuses on xanthones, quinones, steroids, coumarins, phenolics and other compound classes, while part II is focused on alkaloids, terpenoids, flavonoids.