Marine pharmacology in 2001-2: antitumour and cytotoxic compounds

Eur J Cancer. 2004 Dec;40(18):2676-704. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2004.09.005.


During 2001 and 2002, marine antitumour pharmacology research aimed at the discovery of novel antitumour agents was published in 175 peer-reviewed articles. The purpose of this paper is to present a structured Review of the antitumour and cytotoxic properties of 97 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 comprise a taxonomically diverse group of marine invertebrate animals, algae, fungi and bacteria. Antitumour pharmacological studies were conducted with 30 structurally characterised natural marine products in a number of experimental and clinical models which further defined their mechanisms of action. Particularly potent in vitro cytotoxicity data generated with murine and human tumour cell lines was reported for 67 novel marine chemicals with as yet undetermined mechanisms of action. Noteworthy, is the fact that marine anticancer research was sustained by a collaborative effort, involving researchers from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, The Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Turkey, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and the United States. Finally, this 2001-2 overview of the marine pharmacology literature highlights the fact that the discovery of novel marine antitumour agents has continued at the same pace as during 1998, 1999 and 2000.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Biological Factors / chemistry*
  • Biological Factors / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Marine Biology*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biological Factors