Noscapine is a natural alkaloid that is used as an antitussive medicine. However, it also acts as a weak anticancer agent in certain in vivo models through a mechanism that is largely unknown. Here, we performed structural studies and show that the cytotoxic agent 7AO-demethoxy-amino-noscapine (7A-aminonoscapine) binds to the colchicine site of tubulin. We suggest that the 7A-methoxy group of noscapine prevents binding to tubulin due to a steric
clash of the compound with the T5-loop of α-tubulin. We further propose that the anticancer activity of noscapine arises from a bioactive metabolite that binds to the colchicine site of tubulin to induce mitotic arrest through a microtubule cytoskeleton-based mechanism.