Nat Prod Rep. 2020 Sep 8. doi: 10.1039/d0np00041h. Online ahead of print.
Covering: up to 2020As a main bioactive component of the Chinese, Indian, and American Podophyllum species, the herbal medicine, podophyllotoxin (PTOX) exhibits broad spectrum pharmacological activity, such as superior antitumor activity and against multiple viruses. PTOX derivatives (PTOXs) could arrest the cell cycle, block the transitorily generated DNA/RNA breaks, and blunt the growth-stimulation by targeting topoisomerase II, tubulin, or insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor. Since 1983, etoposide (VP-16) is being used in frontline cancer therapy against various cancer types, such as small cell lung cancer and testicular cancer. Surprisingly, VP-16 (ClinicalTrials NTC04356690) was also redeveloped to treat the cytokine storm in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in phase II in April 2020. The treatment aims at dampening the cytokine storm and is based on etoposide in the case of central nervous system. However, the initial version of PTOX was far from perfect. Almost all podophyllotoxin derivatives, including the FDA-approved drugs VP-16 and teniposide, were seriously limited in clinical therapy due to systemic toxicity, drug resistance, and low bioavailability. To meet this challenge, scientists have devoted continuous efforts to discover new candidate drugs and have developed drug strategies. This review focuses on the current clinical treatment of PTOXs and the prospective analysis for improving druggability in the rational design of new generation PTOX-derived drugs.