Natural Marine Compound for Treating Various Cancers

Technology #12606

Reduces Proliferation of Cancer and Tumor Growth by Acting as a Potent Cell Growth Inhibitor

This breakthrough compound treats cancer with a natural therapeutic and utilizes an unprecedented structural scaffold that may potentially be used as an advanced cell growth inhibitor prototype. Cancer is a debilitating and life-threatening disease, and nearly 1.6 million new victims are expected to be diagnosed in 2016, according to the American Cancer Society. New treatments are vitally important to managing this incurable disease, and the marine environment provides unmatched biodiversity that can be utilized for such therapeutics. Researchers at the University of Florida have discovered a small molecule with promising antitumor properties from a marine cyanobacterium, and, in collaboration with Duke researchers, have developed a method to prepare this compound and structural analogues for pharmaceutical use and large-scale distribution.


Natural therapeutic for treatment of various cancers


  • Low structural complexity, making mass production highly feasible and increasing profit potential
  • Natural product with high selectivity, providing a market advantage as a desirable alternative to synthetic pharmaceutical treatments
  • Potent cell growth inhibitor, improving prognosis for patients of a wide variety of cancers and other diseases by reducing the proliferation of disease and tumor growth
  • Small size natural product, creating a marketable product with the competitive advantage of a drug-like size
  • Improved bioactivity, providing a significant edge over existing cancer and tumor proliferation inhibitors


Novel cyanobacterial metabolite from a Floridian Symploca sp. with antiproliferative activity has been found to be highly effective in killing various types of cancer cells in vitro. The structural scaffold is unprecedented and may represent a new cell growth inhibitor prototype with novel pharmacophore. The discovery of this compound, largazole, prompted University of Florida researchers to initiate a collaboration with Duke researchers and develop a process to synthesize this natural product in the laboratory by chemical synthesis. Since largazole is highly effective in killing various types of cancer cells in vitro, this compound or analogues thereof may be used for the treatment of various cancers. This invention pertains to the development of a route to obtain synthetic material of largazole in high yield, representing the first total synthesis of this natural product ever, and have now also the ability to obtain analogues for structure-activity relationship studies. Compounds are tested for differential cytotoxicity and for histone deacetylase inhibitory activity which appears to be one mode of action exerted by largazoles. This technology allows medical professionals to generate gram quantities of material for extensive testing, including in vivo and even clinical studies.