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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 30, 2007

UI researcher receives grant to study anticancer drugs

Zhendong Jin, Ph.D., associate professor in the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy, has received a $1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the chemistry and biology of natural products found in deepwater marine sponges. The research may contribute to the development of anticancer drugs.

Jin's research will involve synthesizing the anticancer natural products superstolides A and B found in marine sponges in the waters off the island of New Caledonia in the southwest Pacific Ocean. The synthesis will provide researchers with material for biological investigations, which will allow for the possibility of anticancer drug development.

"Although the accomplishments in the field of anticancer drug discovery are remarkable, cancer still remains one of the most deadly diseases on earth and is the second-leading killer," Jin said. "Therefore, the development of new, effective anticancer drugs is highly urgent."

According to Jin, more than 60 percent of anticancer agents are natural products or have been derived from or inspired by natural products. His research is designed to provide the research community with access to a new framework with promising anticancer activity.

Jin will conduct the synthesis at his laboratory at the UI, while the biological investigation of the materials will take place at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas.

Jin has conducted extensive medicinal and biological studies to synthesize anticancer and anti-HIV products. Through his preliminary studies for the current project, he has developed several new methods that will be employed throughout his continuing research.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, Health Science Relations, 319-335-8032,; Writer: Brandy Huseman