The Deep Oceans as a Source for New Treatments for Cancer

  • William Fenical
  • James J. La Clair
  • Chambers C. Hughes
  • Paul R. Jensen
  • Susana P. Gaudêncio
  • John B. MacMillan
Conference paper


The development of new approaches for the treatment of cancer represents one of the greatest challenges of modern-day science. Beginning in the mid-1970s with the passage of the “National Cancer Act” and the establishment of the American National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute (NCI), a worldwide effort was undertaken to discover and develop new treatments for this devastating disease. Not surprisingly, one of the most important approaches to this problem was the discovery of new anticancer drugs from natural sources. Programs were developed at NCI to access new plant species from common and remote environments throughout the world, resulting in the discovery of a significant number of lead molecules, such as taxol, that ultimately became part of a primary arsenal of drugs to treat this disease. Although the ocean is 70% of the Earth’s surface and 95% of its crust, this source was not examined until later. A major effort was undertaken by NCI to collect, extract, and assay a massive number of marine plants and animals. The results were impressive, and this achievement underscored the effort to pursue marine organisms. As of 2011, more than 20 marine-derived compounds are in clinical trials for various cancers, and two drugs Yondelis®(aka Trabectedin) and Havalen®(aka Eribulin Mesylate) are currently on the market for treatment of numerous cancer subtypes [1].


Academic Entrepreneurism Human Colon Carcinoma Cell Line Confocal Microscopic Examination American National Institute Mass Spectrometric Protein 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



In this review, I have briefly outlined a large amount of research ongoing in my laboratory. These studies have been supported by the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute under grant R37 044848.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Fenical
    • 1
  • James J. La Clair
    • 2
  • Chambers C. Hughes
    • 1
  • Paul R. Jensen
    • 1
  • Susana P. Gaudêncio
    • 1
  • John B. MacMillan
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine, Scripps Institution of OceanographyUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.Xenobe Research InstituteSan DiegoUSA

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