A research team led by an Indian-origin scientist at South Dakota State University has found that a substance derived from Red Sea Coral can help treat skin cancer.
The team led by SDSU distinguished professor Chandradhar Dwivedi looked at the chemopreventive effects of sarcophine-diol, made from a substance called sarcophine that can be isolated from soft coral found in the Red Sea.
They found that sarcophine-diol has the potential to inhibit cell growth of cancers, and induce orderly, programmed cell death of skin cancer cells.
"We are finding that sarcophine-diol could be used both for chemoprevention and as a chemotherapeutic agent," said Dwivedi.
The study showed that treating human skin cancer cells with different concentrations of sarcophine-diol for different lengths of time reduced the viability of cancer cells in each case.
Sarcophine-diol also inhibited the proliferation or uncontrolled growth of cancer cells. It also induced apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in cancer cells.
Dwivedi said that the extent of apoptosis observed in different treatments in the study was correlated to the level of sarcophine-diol used.
The study found that treatments with higher concentrations of sarcophine-diol induced higher level of so-called "executioner" proteins that have a role in apoptosis, or programmed cell death compared to a control group.
"Further investigations of sarcophine-diol in experimental models and in cell culture studies are needed to explore its mechanisms of action," Dwivedi said.
"Sarcophine-diol has excellent potential to be a potent chemotherapeutic agent that can be further investigated for use against nonmelanoma skin cancer development," he added.
The study is published in the academic journal Translational Oncology.