Marine pharmacology in 2000: antitumor and cytotoxic compounds

Int J Cancer. 2003 Jun 20;105(3):291-9. doi: 10.1002/ijc.11080.


During 2000, marine antitumor pharmacology research aimed at the discovery of novel antitumor agents was published in 85 peer-reviewed articles. The purpose of this article is to present a structured review of the antitumor and cytotoxic properties of 143 marine natural products, many of them novel compounds that belong to diverse structural classes, including polyketides, terpenes, steroids and peptides. The organisms yielding these bioactive compounds comprised a taxonomically diverse group of marine invertebrate animals, algae, fungi and bacteria. Antitumor pharmacological studies were conducted with 19 marine natural products in a number of experimental and clinical models that defined or further characterized their mechanisms of action. Potentially promising in vitro cytotoxicity data generated with murine and human tumor cell lines were reported for 124 novel marine chemicals with as yet undetermined mechanisms of action. Noteworthy is the fact that marine anticancer research clearly remains a multinational effort, involving researchers from Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Spain, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, the Netherlands and the United States. Finally, this 2000 overview of the marine pharmacology literature highlights the fact that the discovery of novel marine antitumor agents continued at the same high level of research activity as during 1998 and 1999.

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
  • Models, Chemical
  • Porifera / chemistry


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biological Products
  • Marine Toxins