Scientists have been successful in synthesizing an anticancer compound after efforts of about three decades. The compound has been called halichondrin. They occur naturally in sea sponge called Halichondria okadai.
The lead researcher of the study is Yoshito Kishi, Professor of Chemistry in Morris Loeb at the Harvard University. Halichondrins were discovered about 33 years back by some Japanese researchers. However it was found only in small quantities in sea sponges. But for studying its biological behavior and pharmacological properties as well as to test for its anti cancer effects, it was required in large quantities. In the past a method had been developed for synthesizing halichondrin B which is a member of the family of halichondrin. Since this researchers had been trying hard to extend the process. However the recreation procedure was difficult because of the particular structure of the molecule.
There are 31 chiral centers in the E7130 molecule which means that the synthesis can go wrong in about 4billion different ways. Takashi Owa, the study co-author said that the unique structure of the product drew the interest of the people towards their way of action however the shortage of drug supply prevented the researchers from doing a clinical study. Halichondrin B was first synthesized by Prof. Kishi and his team in 1992. A simplified version of molecule which is called eribulin was made available for the treatment of liposarcoma and metastatic breast cancer in the year 2010. Prof. Kishi said that it was not possible to think of synthesizing even a gram-quantity of halichondrin back in 1992. But now it has become possible because of the advancements in organic synthesis.
Prof. Kishi said that they were very happy to see that the basic discoveries of chemistry have made it possible to do large scale synthesis of the compound. The scientists, in their paper have also described new insights on the action mechanism of the E7130. It was proved in the past by researchers that halichondrins had anticancer properties as they inhibited microtubules. It has unique effects also. They cause changes in the tumor environment which can improve the working of other cancer drugs.
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