Marine Cytotoxic (Anti-Cancer) Compounds Information


Information about Marine Cytotoxic (Anti-Cancer) Compounds

Some marine organisms possess cytotoxic properties and those organisms containing beneficial therapeutic activities and pharmacological actions are identified these biomedicines are called marine drugs.

Some of the marine cytotoxic compounds are Ara-C, Crassin acetate, etc.

1. Ara-C:

Chemical Nature:
Ara-C is chemically 1-a-D-arabinofuranosyl cytosine. It is also known as cytosine arabinoside.

Source and Synthesis:
Ara-C is a synthetic compound synthesized from the naturally occurring moieties present in Caribbean sponges like spongosine and spongouridine.


  • Ara-C is helpful in the treatment of acute myelogenous leukemia.
  • Ara-C helps in the treatment of acute human leukemia.
  • Ara-C is active against Erlich carcinoma.
  • Ara-C is active against Sarcoma-180.
  • Ara-C also helps in the treatment of L-1210 leukemia in mice.
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2. Crassin Acetate:

Chemical Nature:
Chemically crassin acetate belongs to cyclic diterpenes and it is a member of cembranoids.

Source and Synthesis:
Crassin acetate is obtained generally from soft corals. It is obtained from Caribbean gorgonian, Pseudoplexaura porosa.

This compound is cytotoxic to Human Leukemia and the cells like HeLa cells in vitro.

3. Simularin, Dihydrosimularin, and Simulariolide

From among the various cembranoids, Sinularia flexibilis is a soft coral that gives cytotoxic compounds like simularin, dihydrosimularin and simulariolide.

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4. Asperidol:

Asperidol is also a cembranoid but it is chemically non-lactonic. Asperidol is obtained from gorgonian coral and it has cytotoxic properties.

Many chemical compounds with anti-tumor and immuno-suppressant effects are discussed below:

5. Geranyl Hydroquinone:

Geranyl hydroquinone is extracted by using chloroform extract of Aplidium species and is cytotoxic to leukemia and mammary carcinoma.

6. Aplysistatin:

Aplysistatin is a chemical compound that is extracted from the sea hare Aplysia angasi. Aplysistatin has antileukemic activity.

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7. Halitoxin:

Halitoxin is extracted from a sponge known as Haliclona Viridis. Halitoxin has antitumor properties.

8. Didemnins A, B and C:

Didemnins A, B and C are extracted from Caribbean tunicate Trididemnum species.
Didemnins are potent inhibitors of L-1210 leukemic cells in vitro and also inhibit P-388 leukemia and B-16 melanoma in vivo.

9. Majusculamine-C:

Majusculamine-C is extracted from algae, Lyngbya majuscula and it is an inhibitor of X-5563 myeloma.

The other compounds with antitumor properties are extracted and purified from the fractions of sea squirt, Ecteinascidia turbinata.

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