IBG researchers published their latest collaborative study, which uses a systems biology approach to mine natural products for their anticancer capability, in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity.

In the field of cancer drug discovery, natural products have been an important part of the drug candidate portfolio. Anticancer drugs based on natural compounds have been successfully shown to reduce the cancer risk and mortality due to their antioxidant or anti-inflammatory features.

We already know that fruits and vegetables contain various vitamins, minerals and other types of chemicals that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential. Some spices and herbs like curcumin, clove, oregano and cinnamon contain vitamins, tannins, alkaloids and phenolic diterpenes that possess anti-tumor and antioxidant capability. Nuts are very rich in nutrients of high biological value and are associated with cancer prevention.

With the aim of creating an effective resource containing natural products affecting different types of cancers and cancer related pathways, Dr. Athanasia Pavlopoulou -group leader of the Computational Systems Biology Lab at IBG-, Assoc. Prof. Gökhan Karakülah –leader of IBG’s Bioinformatics Platform- and Işıl Takan, a PhD student at IBG, collaborated with researchers from the DNA Damage Laboratory of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) headed by Prof. Alex Georgakilas and Dokuz Eylül University, Gökay Mehmet Biz. They used an in silico approach to combine the data retrieved from the biomedical literature. Researchers defined a group of natural foods that could potentially target 19 types of cancers and a list of genes that are critical in tumor cell survival.

Moreover, they developed a database with a user-friendly interface called NaturaProDB that contains the retrieved data (

Natural compounds are considered more cost-effective and efficacious compared to synthetic compounds. This study and database provide an important resource that can be exploited in the development of anticancer multitargeted therapies.