Novel Drug Inspired by a Marine Natural Product Offers New Approach to Treat Pancreatic Cancer

Novel Drug Inspired by a Marine Natural Product Offers New Approach to Treat Pancreatic Cancer (UF Health)

A novel drug candidate based on a marine natural product discovered 20 years ago could be the basis for a new approach to treating pancreatic cancer, according to University of Florida researchers, who are continuing to evaluate it.

Hendrik Luesch, Ph.D., and Weijing Cai, Ph.D., authored a study in the journal Investigative New Drugs, which highlights the development of Apra S10 as a potential pancreatic cancer drug.
Less than 20 percent of pancreatic cancer patients live a full year after diagnosis. By 2030, pancreatic cancer is expected to become the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, surpassing breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.

“Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive disease and our therapies to date are mostly ineffective,” said Jose Trevino, M.D., an assistant professor of surgery in the UF College of Medicine, part of UF Health, the university’s academic health center. “It is a hard disease to tackle because it is a silent killer. By the time symptoms present, the cancer has most likely spread to another organ system. We need new strategies to combat the disease.”

UF College of Pharmacy researchers recently developed a novel molecule based on marine cyanobacteria, Apra S10, to target pancreatic cancer cells. In laboratory testing, Apra S10 inhibited the growth of pancreatic cancer cells derived from patients and maintained high concentrations in the pancreas compared with other organs.

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