The plant is exploited and studied as a medicinal plant as it was found to produce more than 100 monoterpenoid indole alkaloids that contain the two major vital cytotoxic dimeric alkaloids that are used for cancer chemotherapy treatment, also many alkaloids have a medicinal role. The compounds include the anti cancer compounds: Vinblastine and Vincristine (Magnotta, 2006). The alkaloid vincristine has a role for treating leukemia in children.
Vinblastine and vincristine are the two important bioactive alkaloids produced from this plant. These two are key compounds in treatment of various types of cancer. The potent anticancer compounds are synthesized in shikimate, mevalonate and methyl-erythritol phosphate (MEP) pathways. These two compounds have many biological properties, and it is discussed in detail in the following section. Recent years have seen nanotechnology-based synthesis, and these formulations have been considered to increase the efficacy of the bioactive compounds. This could be opening doors to a new era in the development of nanotechnology-based drugs. On the other hand, toxicity concerns of the prosperity of the vinca compounds were taken into consideration.
C. roseus is an amazing chemical factory, producing more than 130 TIAs, some of which exhibit strong pharmacological activities. The most striking biological activity investigated during recent years has been the antitumour effect of the dimeric alkaloids vinblastine and vincristine, as well as anhydrovinblastine, together with a number of semi-synthetic derivatives, known as the Vinca alkaloids.
Hypoglycemic activity was detected in dichloromethane:methanol extract (1:1) of leaves and twigs of Catharanthus roseus (family Apocynaceae), a traditionally used medicinal plant, using streptozotocin (STZ) induced diabetic rat model.
Results indicate increased metabolization of glucose in treated rats. Increased levels of lipid peroxidation measured as 2-thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) indicative of oxidative stress in diabetic rats were also normalized by treatment with the extract.