Trigger for Cancer-Fighting Marine Product Uncovered

    A discovery made in marine biomedical laboratories at UCSD’s
    Scripps Institution of Oceanography has led to key information about the
    fundamental biological processes that occur inside a marine organism, leading
    to the creation of a natural product currently being tested to treat cancer.

    The finding could pave the way for new applications of the
    natural product in treating human diseases.

    The research team, led by Bradley Moore, a professor at
    Scripps Oceanography Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine and Skaggs
    School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and postdoctoral researcher
    Alessandra Eustáquio, uncovered an enzyme called SalL inside Salinispora
    tropica, a promising marine bacterium identified by Scripps researchers in
    1991.

    Researchers also discovered a novel pathway for the way the
    marine bacterium incorporates chlorine atoms, the key ingredient for triggering
    its potent cancer-fighting natural product. The Salinispora derivative is
    currently in phase one of human clinical trials for the treatment of multiple
    myeloma and other cancers.

    “This was a totally unexpected pathway,” Moore said in a press release. “There are
    well over 2,000 chlorinated natural products, and this is the first example in
    which chlorine is assimilated by this kind of pathway.”

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