Work on cancer-killing compound nets FSU professor major grant

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.--Within a laboratory on the Florida State University campus, a chemist leads a team of researchers in a quest to develop synthetic versions of rare natural substances. If all goes well, the team's efforts could pay off in the form of the next generation of cancer-fighting drugs.

Such research often is a long, laborious process that can take years to generate results -- but is essential if breakthroughs in medicine, engineering and the sciences are to occur. In the FSU chemist's case, the state of Florida has acknowledged that the wait may well be worth it.

Gregory B. Dudley, an assistant professor in FSU's department of chemistry and biochemistry, recently was awarded a $450,000, three-year grant from the James & Esther King Biomedical Research Program, which is operated by the Florida Department of Health.

The program (www.floridabiomed.com) supports biomedical research on the prevention, diagnosis, treatments and cures for tobacco-related diseases, including cancer.

Dudley and his doctoral students are doing research on the synthesis of roseophilin, a naturally occurring compound produced by an obscure species of bacteria. Roseophilin (pronounced rose-ee-oh-FILL-in), which was first identified by Japanese researchers in 1992, is cytotoxic, meaning it kills cancer cells.

Public funding such as the King grant is essential if scientists are to continue to make progress in the ongoing battle against cancer and other diseases, Dudley said.

"The grant will allow us to engage in the kind of fundamental research that is needed to bring down the cost and increase the effectiveness of future pharmaceutical drugs," he said.

Dudley explained that the overall mission of his lab is to develop better access to synthetic versions of "biologically important" chemicals for which nature provides a limited supply. Typically, he said, he and his students choose a molecule that has shown interesting properties and

Contact: Gregory B. Dudley
Florida State University

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