FAU Study: Can sea sponge be a cure for pancreatic cancer?


A deep-water marine sponge found off of Fort Lauderdale’s coast contains a compound that can inhibit the growth of pancreatic cancer cells, say  scientists at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce.

FAU Harbor Branch Leiodermatium
Could this sponge off the coast of Fort Lauderdale hold the answer to curing pancreatic cancer?

The sponge contains leiodermatolide, a natural product that research shows can block cancer cells from dividing using extremely low concentrations of the compound.

According to a FAU news release, sea sponges are an ancient group of animals that appeared more than 600 million years ago that have many of the same genes as humans.

“These scientists are taking advantage of this similarity in human and sponge genomes to isolate marine natural compounds from these organisms to develop medicines useful in the treatment of human diseases such as cancer,” the release stated.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Patients have less than a 7 percent survival rate within five years of diagnosis, and 74 percent of patients die within the first year of diagnosis.

The lead author of the study is Esther Guzmán, an associate research professor at FAU Harbor Branch.

ks for treatments for pancreatic cancer and infectious diseases, and their scientists also have collaborations with other scientists working on other forms of cancer, malaria, tuberculosis, neurodegenerative disease and inflammation.

“The primary goal of our marine biomedical and biotechnology program is to discover marine natural products with utility as medicines or as tools to better allow us to understand disease processes,” said Wright.

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