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Red Sea Coral Substance Shown Effective Against Skin Cancer

Posted: May 21, 2009

Showing promising growth in the treatment of skin cancer, researchers in South Dakota are using a substance derived from Red Sea coral to target tumors.

Scientists at South Dakota State University (SDSU) are exploring the mechanisms by which a substance derived ultimately from Red Sea coral could help treat skin cancer. The study built on earlier work by SDSU distinguished professor Chandradhar Dwivedi’s lab looking at the chemopreventive effects of sarcophine-diol, made from a substance called sarcophine that can be isolated from soft coral found in the Red Sea.

The new study carried the work beyond looking at sarcophine-diol’s possible use in prevention of skin cancer to consider its potential as a tool in therapies to actually treat skin cancer. “We are finding that sarcophine-diol could be used both for chemoprevention and as a chemotherapeutic agent,” Dwivedi said.

Specifically, the new SDSU research explored sarcophine-diol’s potential to inhibit cell growth of cancers, and also its potential to induce orderly, programmed cell death of skin cancer cells. The scientists published their research findings in March 2009 in the academic journal Translational Oncology.

Dwivedi, head of SDSU’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, directed the study by departmental graduate student researcher Xiaoying Zhang. Other researchers involved included Ajay Bommareddy of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, a former graduate student in Dwivedi’s laboratory; SDSU graduate student Wei Chen of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences; Sherief Khalifa of Misr International University in Cairo, Egypt; assistant professor Radhey Kaushik, who has a joint appointment in SDSU’s Department of Veterinary Sciences and the Department of Biology and Microbiology; and associate professor Hesham Fahmy of the SDSU Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences.