Scientists have found that a molecule extracted from the Indonesian sea sponge species has been shown in the laboratory to prevent the growth of cervical cancer. Scientists at the University of South Carolina, who studied the anticancer potential of sponges, have found compounds that have been shown to be effective for melanoma, prostate cancer and pancreatic cancer. Their latest effort focuses on cervical cancer, the fourth most common type of cancer among women, with 13,800 new diagnoses and 4,290 deaths in the United States by 2020, according to the American Cancer Society.
Researchers are testing the function of Manzamine A, a natural formation of the Acanthostronglyophora ingens sea sponge in The Long Bay, Indonesia. Previous studies have shown that Manzamine A can fight malaria-causing parasites. The team conducted in vitro experiments in the lab, where four different cervical cancer cells were tested. Scientists have found that the Manzamine A compound is effective in preventing cancer cells from growing and, in some cases, killing them completely. Importantly, Manzamine A did not harm non-cancer cells during the process.
Computer modeling conducted by the team found that the molecule had similar structural characteristics to natural inhibitors of protein sexpressed by cervical cancer cells. These proteins are known to be one of the factors contributing to poor prognosis in patients, and the team’s study found that Manzamine A was 10 times more effective at removing these proteins than natural inhibitors.
While the results are promising, there is still a long way to go before the findings can be translated into clinical drugs. The next step will be to find out if it works in the animal and then move on to clinical trials. The scientists also point out that the study highlights the need to address biodiversity loss in order to keep nature in supply of potentiallife-saving compounds.