University of Florida researchers have modified a toxic chemical produced by tiny marine microbes and successfully deployed it against laboratory models of colon cancer.
Writing August 31 in ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters, UF medicinal chemists describe how they took a generally lethal byproduct of marine cyanobacteria and made it more specifically toxic -- to cancer cells.
When the scientists gave low doses of the compound to mice with a form of colon cancer, they found that it inhibited tumor growth without the overall poisonous effect of the natural product. Even at relatively high doses, the agent was effective and safe.
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"Systematic Chemical Mutagenesis Identifies a Potent Novel Apratoxin A/E Hybrid with Improved in Vivo Antitumor Activity." (http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ml200176m)