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Scientists synthesize long-sought-after anticancer agent
Date:1/31/2011

New Haven, Conn.A team of Yale University scientists has synthesized for the first time a chemical compound called lomaiviticin aglycon, leading to the development of a new class of molecules that appear to target and destroy cancer stem cells.

Chemists worldwide have been interested in lomaiviticin's potential anticancer properties since its discovery in 2001. But so far, they have been unable to obtain significant quantities of the compound, which is produced by a rare marine bacterium that cannot be easily coaxed into creating the molecule. For the past decade, different groups around the world have been trying instead to synthesize the natural compound in the lab, but without success.

Now a team at Yale, led by chemist Seth Herzon, has managed to create lomaiviticin aglycon for the first time, opening up new avenues of exploration into novel chemotherapies that could target cancer stem cells, thought to be the precursors to tumors in a number of different cancers including ovarian, brain, lung, prostate and leukemia. Their discovery appears online today in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

"About three quarters of anticancer agents are derived from natural products, so there's been lots of work in this area," Herzon said. "But this compound is structurally very different from other natural products, which made it extremely difficult to synthesize in the lab."

In addition to lomaiviticin aglycon, Herzon's team also created smaller, similar molecules that have proven extremely effective in killing ovarian stem cells, said Gil Mor, M.D., a researcher at the Yale School of Medicine who is collaborating with Herzon to test the new class of molecules' potential as a cancer therapeutic.

The scientists are particularly excited about lomaiviticin aglycon's potential to kill ovarian cancer stem cells because the disease is notoriously resistant to Taxol and Carboplatin, two of the most common chemothe
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Contact: Suzanne Taylor Muzzin
suzanne.taylormuzzin@yale.edu
203-432-8555
Yale University
Source:Eurekalert

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