November 2018 – Lab Notes

Lab Notes

Novel drug inspired by a marine natural product may help treat pancreatic cancer

A novel drug candidate based on a marine natural product discovered 20 years ago could be the basis for a new approach to treating pancreatic cancer. UF College of Pharmacy researchers have developed a novel molecule based on marine cyanobacteria, Apra S10, to target pancreatic cancer cells. In laboratory testing, Apra S10 inhibited the growth of pancreatic cancer cells derived from patients and maintained high concentrations in the pancreas compared with other organs. Apra S10 originates from a family of molecules known as apratoxins, found in select areas of the Pacific Ocean near Micronesia. — Matt Splett


UF researchers find genetic ‘switch’ that can impact asthma, parasitic treatments

UF Health researchers have discovered that a novel molecular switch can activate certain target genes in mice and block expression of others. Mice that lacked a particular gene transcription factor known as Bcl11b had less-severe asthma but also a diminished ability to clear parasitic infections, the researchers found. That genetic deficiency influences how certain immune cells evolve, which ultimately affects the severity of asthma and parasitic infections. While the missing genetic factor diminishes the response to parasitic infections, it can be manipulated to boost that response. — Doug Bennett


Long-term use of proton pump inhibitors raises risks for cystic fibrosis patients

Long-term use of a class of drugs that suppress stomach acid is linked to a higher risk of hospitalization for cystic fibrosis patients, who are widely prescribed the medications, a study by UF Health researchers has found. The study looked at acid-suppressive drugs called proton pump inhibitors, which are used to treat reflux, heartburn, ulcers and other conditions. A review of the medical history of 114 patients found those using the PPIs long term were more often hospitalized for complications of the disease than those patients not on the drugs. — Bill Levesque