Analyzing the research landscape: Mapping frontiers and hot spots in anti-cancer research using bibliometric analysis and research network pharmacology
Introduction: Network pharmacology has emerged as a forefront and hotspot in anti-cancer. Traditional anti-cancer drugs are limited by the paradigm of “one cancer, one target, one drug,” making it difficult to address the challenges of recurrence and drug resistance. However, the main advantage of network pharmacology lies in its approach from the perspective of molecular network relationships, employing a “one arrow, multiple targets” strategy, which provides a novel pathway for developing anti-cancer drugs. This study employed a bibliometric analysis method to examine network pharmacology’s application and research progress in cancer treatment from January 2008 to May 2023. This research will contribute to revealing its forefront and hotspots, offering new insights and methodologies for future investigations. Methods: We conducted a literature search on network pharmacology research in anti-cancer (NPART) from January 2008 to May 2023, utilizing scientific databases such as Web of Science Core Collection (WoSCC) and PubMed to retrieve relevant research articles and reviews. Additionally, we employed visualization tools such as Citespace, SCImago Graphica, and VOSviewer to perform bibliometric analysis. Results: This study encompassed 3,018 articles, with 2,210 articles from WoSCC and 808 from PubMed. Firstly, an analysis of the annual national publication trends and citation counts indicated that China and the United States are the primary contributing countries in this field. Secondly, the recent keyword analysis revealed emerging research hotspots in “tumor microenvironment,” “anti-cancer drugs,” and “traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). “ Furthermore, the literature clustering analysis demonstrated that “calycosin,” “molecular mechanism,” “molecular docking,” and “anti-cancer agents” were widely recognized research hotspots and forefront areas in 2023, garnering significant attention and citations in this field. Ultimately, we analyzed the application of NPART and the challenges. Conclusion: This study represents the first comprehensive analysis paper based on bibliometric methods, aiming to investigate the forefront hotspots of network pharmacology in anti-cancer research. The findings of this study will facilitate researchers in swiftly comprehending the current research trends and forefront hotspots in the domain of network pharmacology in cancer research.