Phytomedicine-Loaded Polymeric Nanomedicines: Potential Cancer Therapeutics

  • S. Maya
  • M. Sabitha
  • Shantikumar V. Nair
  • R. JayakumarEmail author
Part of the Advances in Polymer Science book series (POLYMER, volume 254)


Cancer continues to be one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Repeated treatment with chemotherapeutics has resulted in tumors that are resistant to these agents. So, it is becoming necessary to identify natural products that target multiple signaling pathways and cause growth inhibitory effects on human cancer cells without resulting in toxicity issues in normal cells. Curcumin, epigallocatechingallate (EGCG; green tea extract), resveratrol, saponins, silymarin, and grape seed extract (GSE) are some of the phytochemicals with significant anticancer potential that we will be focusing on in this review. Curcumin, a natural diphenolic compound derived from turmeric Curcuma longa, has proven to be a modulator of intracellular signaling pathways that control cancer cell growth, inflammation, invasion and apoptosis, revealing its anticancer potential. EGCG and GSE are two popular plant extracts that have attracted much attention in recent years due to their antioxidant, antimicrobial, anticarcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Saponins are a group of naturally occurring plant glycosides, of which at least 150 kinds of natural saponins have been found to possess significant anticancer properties. Silymarin, a mixture of mainly three flavonolignans (silybin, silychristin and silydianin), is extracted from the milk thistle and possesses potential biological properties. Even though these agents are potent anticancer agents, they are limited by their solubility, hydrophobicity, and low bioavailability. Polymeric nanocarriers provide an efficient platform for overcoming the factors that limit application of phytochemicals as therapeutic agents. This review focuses on the development of phytochemical-loaded polymeric nanoparticles and their application as potential anticancer therapeutic agents.


Cancer therapeutics Curcumin Epigallocatechin gallate Grape seed extract Nanomedicine Phytochemicals Polymeric nanoparticles Resveratrol Saponin Silymarin 



The authors are thankful to the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, for their financial support for this work under the Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Initiative program (Ref. No. BT/PR10882/NNT/28/142/2008). This work was also partially supported by Nanomission, Department of Science and Technology, India under the Theragnostic grant. The author S. Maya also acknowledges CSIR for providing a Senior Research Fellowship (SRF Award No. 9/963(00172)2K11-EMR-I).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Maya
    • 1
  • M. Sabitha
    • 2
  • Shantikumar V. Nair
    • 1
  • R. Jayakumar
    • 1
  1. 1.Amrita Centre for Nanosciences and Molecular Medicine, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research CentreAmrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham UniversityKochiIndia
  2. 2.Amrita School of Pharmacy, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research CentreAmrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham UniversityKochiIndia

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