Work on cancer-killing compound nets FSU professor major grant

October 12, 2005

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.--Within a laboratory on the Florida State University campus, a chemist leads a team of researchers in a quest to develop synthetic versions of rare natural substances. If all goes well, the team's efforts could pay off in the form of the next generation of cancer-fighting drugs.

Such research often is a long, laborious process that can take years to generate results -- but is essential if breakthroughs in medicine, engineering and the sciences are to occur. In the FSU chemist's case, the state of Florida has acknowledged that the wait may well be worth it.

Gregory B. Dudley, an assistant professor in FSU's department of chemistry and biochemistry, recently was awarded a $450,000, three-year grant from the James & Esther King Biomedical Research Program, which is operated by the Florida Department of Health.

The program ( supports biomedical research on the prevention, diagnosis, treatments and cures for tobacco-related diseases, including cancer.

Dudley and his doctoral students are doing research on the synthesis of roseophilin, a naturally occurring compound produced by an obscure species of bacteria. Roseophilin (pronounced rose-ee-oh-FILL-in), which was first identified by Japanese researchers in 1992, is cytotoxic, meaning it kills cancer cells.

Public funding such as the King grant is essential if scientists are to continue to make progress in the ongoing battle against cancer and other diseases, Dudley said.

"The grant will allow us to engage in the kind of fundamental research that is needed to bring down the cost and increase the effectiveness of future pharmaceutical drugs," he said.

Dudley explained that the overall mission of his lab is to develop better access to synthetic versions of "biologically important" chemicals for which nature provides a limited supply. Typically, he said, he and his students choose a molecule that has shown interesting properties and then use it as a springboard for scientific discovery. Such is the case with roseophilin.

"Roseophilin is emerging as a promising new avenue for cancer research," he said. "If we can develop a process for creating large amounts of this and similar compounds both cheaply and efficiently, then it becomes much easier to determine how effective they are at fighting certain types of cancers."

Naresh Dalal, chairman of FSU's department of chemistry and biochemistry, called Dudley an innovative researcher in a promising field of cancer research.

"Many labs across the world have been and continue to be interested in roseophilin," Dalal said. "Here at FSU, Professor Dudley has devised a strategy aimed at providing relatively easy access to synthetic roseophilin, and he recently completed a 'proof of principle' study that supports his research design. He also is developing synthetic production methods related to and inspired by his roseophilin studies.

"In short, cancer researchers the world over will benefit from his work."

Dudley praised the James & Esther King Biomedical Research Program, saying it "arrives at a critical time in Florida. Our population is growing and aging, which will increase the need for front-line biomedical applications at a time when federal funding of basic sciences is becoming tougher to obtain. This grant has a profound impact on my lab because it enables us to grow our program and demonstrate the impact of our research."

Dudley acknowledged the example set by another FSU chemist, Robert Holton, in inspiring his own research. In the early 1990s, Holton gained fame when a scientific breakthrough in his lab enabled a process for synthesizing large quantities of taxol, a compound derived from the Pacific yew tree that has proven successful at combating breast cancer.

"I came to FSU as an undergraduate and met Professor Holton then," Dudley said. "His presence was one of the factors that drew me back here as a professor."
Additional information on Dudley's research is available online at

By Barry Ray

Florida State University

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to