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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2014, Article ID 232946, 16 pages
Review Article

Targeting FASN in Breast Cancer and the Discovery of Promising Inhibitors from Natural Products Derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine

School of Chinese Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong

Received 17 September 2013; Revised 27 December 2013; Accepted 15 January 2014; Published 13 March 2014

Academic Editor: Min Li

Copyright © 2014 Chien-shan Cheng et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Molecular targeted therapy has been developed for cancer chemoprevention and treatment. Cancer cells process a fundamental change in its bioenergetic metabolism from normal cells on an altered lipid metabolism, also known as the de novo fatty acid synthesis, for sustaining their high proliferation rates. Fatty acid synthesis is now associated with clinically aggressive tumor behavior and tumor cell growth and has become a novel target pathway for chemotherapy development. Although the underlying mechanisms of the altered de novo fatty acid synthesis still remains unclear, recent progress has shown that by targeting Fatty acid synthase (FASN), a key enzyme that catalyzes the synthesis of endogenous long chain fatty acid could be a critical target for drug discovery. However, relatively few FASN inhibitors have been discovered. With the long history of clinical practices and numerous histological case study reports, traditional Chinese medicine enjoys an important role in seeking bioactive anticancer natural compounds. Herein, we will give an overall picture of the current progress of molecular targeted therapy in cancer fatty acid synthesis, describe the advances in the research on natural products-derived FASN inhibitors and their potential for enhancing our understanding of fatty acids in tumor biology, and may provide new therapeutic moieties for breast cancer patient care.