Naturalproductman’s Blog

Hey, is that a natural product?!

Something to scratch your head about…

Posted by naturalproductman on March 25, 2015

Here’s a weird one from Joseph Ready’s lab at UT Southwestern. Nigricanoside was isolated and reported in JACS in 2007 and was reported to be very biologically active against human breast cancer MCF-7 cells with an IC50 of 3 nM. The research lab had synthesized the molecule and found no biological activity at all, but I looked for the data on biological activity in the supporting information and did not see anything with the biological testing data. Since the strong claim of the lack of activity would make the original isolation paper not as interesting (afterall, most people are mainly interested in the biological activity of natural products besides the exotic structures in the perspective of a synthetic chemist), it would probably have been good for the group to make that data available in their publication. But a counter argument is what is so exciting about negative data? The original isolation paper in JACS has an image on mitotic arrest of breast cancer cells (Figure 2). The biological testing is mentioned in the acknowledgments of the Chemical Science paper with the names of people from two schools.

Another example of this kind of difference in biological activity between a synthesized natural product vs. the original isolation report is with berkelic acid isolated by Andrea Stierle and co-workers from an abandoned copper mine. Barry Snider’s lab had synthesized this polyketide and found no biological activity – the biological data from the NCI screen panel was reported in the supporting information (pages 23-25 in SI) of the JOC paper (Snider group).

Chemical Science paper

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