The LECOM-Bradenton Natural Products Drug Discovery Laboratory focuses on the biomedical characterization and discovery of new drug-like properties from natural products derived from terrestrial and marine plants, animals and microbes which could potentially be useful for the treatment of cancer.
One of the goals of this laboratory is the discovery of agents which regulate the in vitro antitumor activity of NK cells; members of the innate immune system which have the unique property of recognizing and killing tumor cells in vitro and in vivo. Since natural products have been shown to contain a diverse universe of chemotypes with potent drug-like activities, then screening extracts and their purified constituents obtained from various microbes and plants will yield new immunomodulatory agents whose biological activities will regulate the activity of NK cells and therefore, result in an enhanced anti-tumor response for the cancer patient.
A second goal of this laboratory is the discovery of potent anti-tumor agents whose mechanism of action is targeted towards tumor cell division. Specifically, our laboratory is investigating agents which serve to interrupt the cell cycle, resulting in tumor cell death via necrotic or apoptotic mechanisms. Such agents belong to a call of drugs known as the “anti-mitotics” which are some of the most successful anti-cancer drugs in use today. A drawback of these drugs is that cancer cells may develop resistance to their action. Therefore, our laboratory is focusing on the discovery of new anti-mitotic agents whose mechanism of action also includes subversion of these resistance mechanisms.