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Biochem Pharmacol. 2017 Sep 1;139:3-14. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2017.04.012. Epub 2017 Apr 12.

Sponging off nature for new drug leads.

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Departments of Chemistry and Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Sciences, University of British Columbia, 2036 Main Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1, Canada. Electronic address:


Marine sponges have consistently been the richest source of new marine natural products with unprecedented chemical scaffolds and potent biological activities that have been reported in the chemical literature since the early 1970s. During the last 40years, chemists in the Andersen laboratory at UBC, in collaboration with biologists, have discovered many novel bioactive sponge natural products. Four experimental drug candidates for treatment of inflammation and cancer, that were inspired by members of this sponge natural product collection, have progressed to phase I/II/III clinical trials. This review recounts the scientific stories behind the discovery and development of these four drug candidates; IPL576,092, HTI-286 (Taltobulin), EPI-506 (Ralaniten acetate), and AQX-1125.


Drug discovery; Marine natural products; Porifera

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