Bryostatin cancer drugs are currently undergoing Phase L and Phase II cancer trials according to the U. S. National Institute of Health Clinical Trials program. Brysostatin-1 is a naturally occurring class of chemical compound that is toxic to cells (cytotoxic). Bryostatin cancer drugs are produced by the bacterium Candidatus endobugula sertula and are found in the marine bryozoan Bugula neritina. The rod-like bacterium C. endobugula sertula produces the chemical bryostatin during the larval stage of the bryozoan’s development. The young larvae bryozoans are coated with this compound allowing the young larvae to be distasteful and unpalatable to predators. Article about cell signalling
Bryozoan Bugula neritina is a tiny aquatic animal less than 1 mm in length that forms colonies similar to coral and sponges. Bryozoan colonies can be of various plant-like types similar to moss, branch or tree style, to gelatinous masses. Bryozoans are water filter-feeders. There are over 5,000 species of bryozoans in the world with only about 50 freshwater species. The more notable 130 species of bryozoans tend to be a nuisance animal fouling ship hulls, moorings, piers, and docks. Some freshwater species form large jelly-like masses that tend to clog industrial water intakes. The bryozoan’s Bugula neritina are found in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California, in the Gulf of Mexico, and in the Gulf of Aomori in Japan.
The best source of the cytotoxic chemical bryostatin I was found in host bryozoans Bugula neritina in 1968. Bryostatin was found to contain potent anti-leukemic activity. It has shown promise against lung cancer, prostate cancer, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and possibly pancreatic cancer. Bryostatin cancer drugs act synergistically with other cancer drugs and are potent activators of Protein Kinase C.
Currently, over 20 types of bryostatins have been identified from the bryozoan Bugula neritina host. It currently takes about 14 tons of the bryozoan Bugula neritina to produce 1 ounce of bryostatin. To synthesize bryostatin, chemical formula C47H68O17 with a molecular weight of 905.033, it takes over 50 steps in the laboratory.
The effective mechanism of bryostatin is its unique ability to activate the cell-signaling enzyme Protein Kinase C (PKC) resulting in the inhibition of tumor cell growth and causing tumor cell death. PKC is an enzyme that is important for controlling biochemical reactions in the cell. Bryostatin cancer drugs have been associated with initiating immune response, regulating cell growth activity, and in learning and memory. Cancerous cells undergo rapid growth and need a controlled growth to keep the cells from causing damage to the body.
Since it is a promoter of PKC, bryostatin is being looked into assisting in memory enhancement and in particular to combat Alzheimer’s disease. Bryostatin has shown to increase rates of learning in rats. There are currently about 40 Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials ongoing for the use of bryostatin cancer drugs for numerous cancers and in Alzheimer’s patients. The clinical trials thus far have been for cancers such as: kidney, stomach, breast, prostate, lung, esophageal, head and neck, ovarian, fallopian tube, cervical, multiple myeloma, and leukemia to name a few.