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Russian scientists from the Far Eastern Federal University, the GB Elyakov Pacific Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry and the AV Zhirmunsky National Scientific Center for Marine Biology have discovered four new steroid substances that target cells for breast cancer and colorectal carcinoma. These compounds were extracted from the sea star ‘Ceramaster patagonicus’.
As these scientists explain in an article in the journal ‘Marine Drugs‘, these compounds may be responsible in the body of starfish for supplying nutrients from the digestive tract to peripheral cells, acting similarly to bile acids in the human stomach. Previously, only one compound of this type of starfish had been isolated.
In the study, scientists point to a pronounced anti-cancer effect of the unusual molecules. At the same time, the researchers suggest that, due to their nature as steroids, such substances in starfish can potentially be considered to be blockers of neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s disease, etc.), as they help nerve cells to survive distress such as low levels of oxygen and glucose.
“It is important that the new steroid compounds from starfish slow down the reproduction of cancer cells in non-toxic concentrations. This gives hope that the new substances will not kill healthy cells in the body, and makes promise for more studies and It is interesting that these compounds were found almost by accident when searching for new lipid molecules or fats of marine origin in the starfish extract.During the separation of the substances on the chromatographic plates (TLC), curious spots were detected. After studying them, we established the structures of four new derivatives of polar steroids with fatty acids. Now there are five of them in the world, “explains one of the research leaders, Timofey Malyarenko.
According to the scientist, the next step in the study could be the production of molecules with greater therapeutic properties based on steroid compounds. Furthermore, the new compounds are likely to be examined to reveal the most active molecules responsible for the drug’s effect. It would give an opportunity to search for similar compounds in other types of starfish. Potentially these future substances will be even more effective.