Amphidinolides, a family of natural compounds that have shown promise as powerful antitumor agents, pose problems for cancer researchers because they are found in only minute amounts, and only in microscopic marine flatworms that live off the coasts of Japan and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Nature keeps a tight lock on its supply of amphidinolide.
Work by University of Illinois at Chicago chemistry professor Arun Ghosh may solve this problem. Hes successfully developed a way to synthesize amphidinolides, making potentially abundant quantities available for cancer research. Ghosh and doctoral student Chunfeng Liu reported on their technique in the Feb. 6 online edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
"We wanted to synthesize amphidinolide in the laboratory for subsequent biological studies," said Ghosh. As an antitumor agent, "nobody knows its exact mechanism of action. It could be a microtubule stabilizing agent, like Taxol, or it could cause cellular apopotosis, where cancer cells are killed by chemotherapeutic agents," he said.
Paul Francuch | EurekAlert!
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