Marine pharmacology in 1999: antitumor and cytotoxic compounds

Anticancer Res. 2001 Jul-Aug;21(4A):2489-500.


During 1999 marine antitumor pharmacology research involved researchers in Austria, Australia, England, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Italy, Japan, Spain, Taiwan and the United States. Thirty six papers were published in peer-reviewed journals describing the antitumor and cytotoxic properties of 30 marine natural products belonging to four structural types, namely polyketides, terpenes, nitrogen-containing compounds and polysaccharides. The organisms yielding these bioactive marine compounds comprised a diverse group of marine animals, algae, fungi and bacteria. A variety of antitumor pharmacological studies were conducted with 17 marine natural products with established mechanisms of action in a number of experimental and clinical models. Didemnin B, a tunicate-derived depsipeptide with potent antitumor effects, completed a Phase II anticancer clinical trial which resulted indeterminate in respect to activity against human melanoma due to anaphylactoid reactions. In vitro cytotoxicity data with murine and human cell lines were reported for 14 novel marine chemicals with as yet undetermined mechanisms of action. This 1999 literature overview thus highlights the fact that the multinational effort aimed at the discovery of novel marine antitumor agents remained at the same level of research activity as during 1998.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents / toxicity
  • Biological Products / pharmacology*
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use
  • Biological Products / toxicity
  • Chordata, Nonvertebrate / chemistry
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cnidaria / chemistry
  • Eukaryota / chemistry
  • Fungi / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Marine Biology*
  • Marine Toxins / pharmacology
  • Marine Toxins / therapeutic use
  • Marine Toxins / toxicity
  • Porifera / chemistry


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biological Products
  • Marine Toxins