UF battles cancer through marine studies
University of Florida College of Pharmacy researchers have discovered a marine compound off the coast of Key Largo that inhibits cancer cell growth in laboratory tests, a finding they hope will fuel the development of new drugs to better battle the
The UF-patented compound, largazole, is derived from cyanobacteria that grow on coral reefs. Researchers, who described results from early studies Thursday at an international natural products scientific meeting in Athens, Greece, say the compound is one of the most promising they've found since the college's marine natural products laboratory was established three years ago.
"It's exciting because we've found a compound in nature that may one day surpass a currently marketed drug or could become the structural template for rationally designed drugs with improved selectivity," said Hendrik Luesch (shown above), an assistant professor in UF's department of medicinal chemistry and the study's principal investigator.
Luesch said he plans to study whether largazole reduces or prevents tumor growth in mice over the next few months. See a university press release on the subject here.
- Donna Winchester, higher education reporter