1. and spread of abnormal cells. It is

1.     INTRODUCTION

1.1.      
Cancer

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Cancer is a dreaded disease which results due to
uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. It is one of the leading causes of death around
the world, despite significant advancements in the therapeutic options. Several
millions of cancer cases are being reported and many million deaths are also
being reported worldwide on an annual basis. Over the past three to four
decades cancer incidences are steadily increasing and in majority of the cases
cancer was found to be are more common to an ageing population. Globalization
of unhealthy lifestyles, particularly cigarette smoking, adoption of many
features of the modern western diet with high fat and low fiber content,
combined with a sedentary lifestyle are being the major contributors towards
increased cancer incidences (Alison, 2001).

There
are more than 100 different types of cancer which originate in different parts
of the body or organs, grouped as carcinoma, melanoma, leukemia, lymphomas,
sarcoma and the cancer of the nervous system, based on their tissue of origin. It
is also reported that more than 90% of the cancers occur in epithelia (NCI,
2010).

1.2.      
 Cancer Treatment

The primary modalities of cancer treatment are
surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The greatest drawback of these
therapies is that none of these alone, or their combinations, could efficiently
control the metastatic cancer which requires treatment to reach every part of
the body to be successful in eliminating the disease. The main
drawback of chemotherapy is the rapid development of resistance to multiple
chemotherapeutic drugs (NCI, 2010). Because
of poor survival rates and associated side effects in the conventional cancer
therapies, new therapeutic strategies are required more than ever for effective
treatment and control of cancer. The current focus is on novel drugs,
biological molecules from natural sources like the plants and the microbes with
specific signalling molecules in cancer as their targets.

1.3.      
 Complementary
and alternative therapy

Complementary and
alternative therapy includes ayurvedic, traditional and herbal remedies that
are not part of standard medical care, that evolved from plants,
micro-organisms and other natural sources. Alternative
therapy, involving natural compounds is gaining lot of importance and research
focus during these days due to the inefficacy of synthetic drugs. Nature is an attractive source of novel therapeutic
compounds, as tremendous chemical diversity exists in the millions of species
of plants, animals and microorganisms. Many of the commercially available
anticancer drugs have originated as chemical synthetic drugs or natural
compounds derived from plants and microorganisms (Ma and Wang, 2009; Chabner
and Roberts, 2005; DeVita and Chu, 2008). Compounds isolated from natural
resources have played very significant role as cancer chemotherapeutic agents in
conventional therapies (Kinghorn, 2008). For over 40 years, the search for
naturally occurring compounds has continued from marine organisms including
plants, animals and the microorganisms, apart from terrestrial microorganisms
and plants which are being investigated for their anti-cancer activities. For
example, bisindole (vinca) alkaloids, the camptothecins, the taxanes and the
epipodophyllotoxins are the members of four classes of plant-derived compounds
widely used as antitumor agents, whereas anthracyclines (such as doxorubicin),
bleomycin, dactinomycin (actinomycin), and mitomycin C were included in the
class of antitumor antibiotics from microbes (Kinghorn, 2008).

Ever since the discovery of
penicillin from the fungus Penicillium chrysogenum
in 1943, there was a shift of research focus from plants to microorganisms. Microorganisms
such as bacteria, fungi, yeast and microalgae are sources of structurally
diverse bioactive secondary metabolites that can act as catalysts for the
production of enzymes, proteins, vitamins, organic acids, antibiotics and food
ingredients along with their utility as therapeutics. As natural sources of
drugs, micro-organisms have great potential for the treatment and prevention of
diseases like diabetes, obesity, cancer, anaemia,
diarrhoea and others (Gupta et al.
2014).

1.4.      
 Microbial pigments

Pigments
produced by microorganisms as reminiscence of their secondary metabolism,
commonly referred as biopigments (Shirata et al., 2000), have some
natural functions like protection against ultraviolet radiation
(Romero-Martinez et al., 2000),
protection against oxidants, protection against extremes of heat and cold,
protection against natural antimicrobial compounds (Duin et al., 2002), antimicrobial activities, acquisition of nutrients
and energy by photosynthesis (Chew et al.,
2007). Many of the microbial pigments have potential clinical applications including
antibiotic, immumnosuppresive activities and in treating diseases like the cancer
(Soliev, 2011).

As
cancer evades all kinds of therapies, there is still an ongoing search for
novel anticancer compounds from natural sources. In our pursuit of finding an
alternative therapeutic compound to treat cancer, and also as we found that
many microbial pigments have promising anticancer properties, the current study
is focused to evaluate the cytotoxic properties of pigments isolated from
bacterial sources.

 

 

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