Cancers of all kinds continue to plague humans. Although important inroads to success have emerged, there are still many types of cancer that are virtually untreatable and/or have a high mortality rate. Historically, natural products have played a tremendous role in the development of therapies for treating cancers and we believe that the scientific community has only just scratched the surface when it comes to mining this resource for new cancer-fighting compounds. We are particularly interested in the development of targeted therapies for difficult-to-treat or yet untreatable cancers including childhood cancers, pancreatic cancers, triple negative breast cancers, and glioblastomas. Our approach to addressing these therapeutic needs involves the use of innovative methods for screening and testing natural products in phenotype-driven assays that highlight the unique genomic defects within each cancer subtype. This targeted approach is beginning to yield compounds with promising activity profiles, as well as providing insights into the molecular targets suitable for inhibiting cancers of diverse origins.
We are using our natural products library to identify compounds active against a range of deadly infectious bacteria and fungi including Acinetobacter spp., methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Candida spp., Enterobacter spp., Aspergillus spp., and others. We utlize assays geared toward uncovering natural products that could be used to combat persistent bacterial and fungal infections such as those caused by recurring and antibiotic-resistant microorganisms. Two ways that we have approached this problem are through the inhibition of biofilms, as well as synergistic enhancement of antibiotic activities.
We are in the process of completing preliminary studies that will enable our group to screen for new compounds that inhibit a variety of human parasites. These tests will be completed in early 2014 and further details are expected to be released later this year.