South Florida Hospital News
Friday September 20, 2019
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June 2019 - Volume 15 - Issue 12

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Marine Organisms Hold Promise for Treating Triple Negative Breast Cancer

The oceans cover more than 70 percent of the earth’s surface and provide a rich source of unique, bioactive natural products. Their chemical diversity and structural complexity represent an untapped supply of potential new drugs, lead compounds for medicinal chemistry and biological probes to better understand diseases. More than 50 percent of cancer drugs currently used have originated from natural products.

Researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute have received $801,000 from the Florida Department of Health’s Bankhead Coley Cancer Research Program for a project to investigate the use of marine natural compounds as potential treatments of triple negative breast cancers.
 
The objective of the project, “Discovery of Marine Natural Products Active Against Triple Negative Breast Cancers Using 3D-spheroid Cultures; an In Vivo Relevant Assay Platform,” is to discover compounds from the extensive marine natural products library at FAU Harbor Branch that can induce programmed cell death (apoptosis) in triple negative breast cancer cells grown as spheroids. Cells grown as spheroids more closely mimic tumors, and thus compounds identified through this screening effort are expected to be more easily translated to the clinic.
 
The researchers hope to identify clinically active compounds that will revolutionize treatment regimens and provide more effective treatment options, with less side effects, and greater survival rates. The five-year survival rate for triple negative breast cancers is about 77 percent compared to 93 percent for other breast cancer types.
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