Lab Spotlight

Nature’s Bounty: Revitalizing the Discovery of New Cancer Drugs From Natural Products

Dept. of Health and Human Services
The image depicts a marine organism, Clavelina sp.

Photo taken by the Coral Reef Research Foundation under contract to the Natural Products Branch, National Cancer Institute

Nature is an important resource for the isolation of new drugs, with approximately half of all anti-cancer drugs based on chemical scaffolds isolated from nature. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has one of the largest and most diverse collections of organisms for natural product-based research. The Institute has invested in a new cancer moonshot program, the NCI Program for Natural Product Discovery, which has created state-of-the-art laboratories for the pre-fractionation, high-throughput isolation, and chemical characterization of biologically active natural products. The image depicts a marine organism, Clavelina sp., from which new natural products have been isolated and investigated as potential anti-cancer agents.

The NCI’s Natural Products Branch (NPB) is responsible for the acquisition of crude natural product materials from terrestrial and marine environments for the extraction and screening of extracts and fractions in the NCI 60 cancer cell line screen and other intramural and extramural screening programs. The NPB natural product extract repository and facilities are located at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research.

Lab Spotlight