Sponging off nature for new drug leads
Marine sponges have consistently been the richest source of new marine natural products with unprecedented chemical scaffolds and potent biological activities that have been reported in the chemical literature since the early 1970s. During the last 40 years, chemists in the Andersen laboratory at UBC, in collaboration with biologists, have discovered many novel bioactive sponge natural products. Four experimental drug candidates for treatment of inflammation and cancer, that were inspired by members of this sponge natural product collection, have progressed to phase I/II/III clinical trials. This review recounts the scientific stories behind the discovery and development of these four drug candidates; IPL576,092, HTI-286 (Taltobulin), EPI-506 (Ralaniten acetate), and AQX-1125.