The research of novel anti-cancer compounds in the marine environment continues.
Scientist of the Sultan Qaboos University recently published a pioneering article with title “Screening for Anti-Cancer Compounds in Marine Organisms”. Their results are promising: tested natural products extracted from marine organisms showed high anti-cancer potential.
Why searching for cancer compounds in the marine environment?
In marine extreme habitats, the organisms have to adapt to the difficult life conditions such as low temperature and high pressures. This adaptation has resulted in the production of unique biochemical features, metabolites and bioactive compounds. One can say that the inhabitants of the ocean host an exceptional reservoir for bioactive natural products.
The first marine bioactive compounds were isolated in the early 1950s. Since then, and over last 10 years advances have been made in the field of chemo-preventive and therapeutically medicine.
Oldest description of cancer
The oldest description of cancer dates to about 3000 BC in Egypt based on The American Cancer Society. The word cancer is credited to the Greek physician Hippocrates (460-370 BC), who is considered the “Father of Medicine”. He used the terms carcinos and carcinoma to describe non-ulcer forming and ulcer-forming tumors.
Results of the scientific study of cancer compounds in the marine environment
And even though we are in the 21st century, cancer still remains one of the major causes of mortality. Therefore research groups around the world are investigating new and novel paths for anti-cancer drugs. Their scope is to enhance chemotherapy treatment and increase survival rates.
The scientist of this study, which was headed by Sergey Dobretsov tested natural products extracted from marine organisms. The study took place in the Arabian Gulf and the Sea of Oman.
Marine sponges, algae, soft corals, tunicates, bryozoans, mangrove tree samples and sea cucumbers, even fungi and bacteria were collected from the marine environment. A total of 40 natural products isolated from these marine organisms were tested for their anti-cancer potential. Eight products were pure compounds and 32 extracts. MCF-7 Cells (human breast adenocarcinoma cell line) were treated with different extract concentrations. Out of the 40 over 22% showed strong or medium anti-cancer activity. Moreover, the tested compounds did now show damaged on the human cells. Thus might be a possible indication that these marine compounds are non-toxic.
As a result, scientists of this study highlight the importance of implementing future experiments, as such “investigation will provide possibilities for the development of new cancer treatments.”