Kerry McPhail, a scientist at Oregon State of University, goes on diving expeditions across the world to collect interesting species to study. Eight years ago, she stumbled on a something that might just be a major breakthrough in the oncological space: a species of blue-green algae called coibamide A.
She collected the algae during a dive in Panama’s Coiba National Park and subsequently ran it through a screening that looks for anti-cancer activity. The resulting activity was groundbreaking: a compound from algae that interferes with the communication between the cancer cells and blood vessels/other cells, isolating the cancer cells and ultimately starving the cancer.
This activity could be applied to many different strains of cancer, and its unique approach has the potential of influencing cancer treatment beyond the use of algae. For current research purposes, however, McPhail is focused on brain tumors and triple negative breast cancer—two notoriously difficult forms of cancer to cure and ones in dire need of innovative treatment options.
Excitingly, these efforts were supplemented by work from Japan’s Kyoto University: scientists there have figured out how to produce coibamide A synthetically, removing the restraint of having to harvest the algae from nature.
For more information, visit the original Science Daily article.