One of the amazing things about science and biology is coming across amazing photos and microscopic shots like these, before and after treatment of lung cancer from the Government website Ocean Explorer.
For a moment I was wondering what on earth human cancer cells were
doing on an oceanic site, then I realised that they discuss a
collection of sponges and sea fauna, which may contain the active
ingredients for the development of various cancer therapies. The
active ingredient is isolated and often re-engineered in the laboratory
to create a synthetic version that is more viable for the long term
health of the planet.
Here's one example using the red sponge, from which lasonolide was isolated in 1999 and is now in development as a potential anti-cancer cytotoxic agent to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death). By 2004, five potential lasonolide compounds had been isolated. Last year, some early preclinical results were published on cell adhesion by the NIH – cancer cells need to adhere to enable the tumour mass to develop via angiogenesis.
Efforts to develop a synthetic version of the molecule are currently underway. One article I came across referred to the potent anti-neoplastic activity of the compound in pancreatic cells lines, which would be a good tumour type to test it in given the high unmet need and poor survival reported with existing therapies either with single agent gemcitabine or in combination with other chemotherapy agents.