Although testing and vaccination for the human papillomavirus have decreased the number of cervical cancer deaths, the disease remains the fourth most common cancer type in women.
A sponge found in Manado Bay, Indonesia, produces a molecule called manzamine A that may stop the growth of cervical cancer cells, according to a new study in The Journal of Natural Products.
The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 13,800 new cervical cancer diagnoses and 4290 deaths in 2020. Although testing and vaccination for the human papillomavirus have decreased the number of cervical cancer deaths, the disease remains the fourth most common cancer type in women.
Researchers at the Medical University of South Caroline (MUSC) and University of South Carolina (UofSC) examined the anti-growth and cancer cell-killing effects of manzamine A in 4 different cervical cancer cell lines. Manzamine A stopped cervical cancer cells from growing and caused some cells to die, but did not have the same effects on normal noncancerous cells.
The study authors said that this is a highly exciting new application for a molecule that has previously shown significant potential for the control of malaria and that has good drug-like properties.
Previous studies identified sponge-derived compounds effective against melanoma as well as prostate and pancreatic cancers. Manzamine A is also effective against the parasite responsible for malaria, leading to a single-dose cure in rodents. Some analogs of the unique class of drugs are candidates for the control of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
In the current report, manzamine A reduced expression levels of a protein known to be highly expressed in a number of cancers, including cervical cancer, and to contribute to poorer patient outcomes.
Computer modeling demonstrates that manzamine A shares similar structures with known inhibitors of the protein, yet manzamine A is 10 times more potent in blocking the problematic proteins, according to the study.
Several patents have been filed on manzamine A and a startup company is currently being developed. The next steps are to establish the clinical relevance and to advance it into clinical applications and further development, according to the researchers.
The study authors said that natural farming these molecules is the best source while providing opportunities for economic development in rural Indonesia. However, the potential to find new therapeutic uses such as this for natural products hinges on species diversity, and the researchers said that potential aggressive changes in climate may affect opportunities like these.