The supply problem
The examples of sponge-derived compounds in advanced stages of clinical trials presented in part I of this article emphasize the potential of sponges as auspicious source for drugs against various human diseases.
However, compared to the vast number of over 4000 compounds isolated from sponges during the last three decades, the number of sponge-derived drugs that have already entered the market is surprisingly small. There are two major reasons for this phenomenon: One is the extremely long time frame involved in the process of drug development. For instance, to develop the famous anticancer drug Taxol® from its initial description in the yew tree to its approval as a commercial pharmaceutical took over 20 years. The presented examples of sponge-derived compounds in clinical trials, this long time frame is by far no exception. Thus, as many interesting compounds were initially reported already in the 1980s and early 1990s, there is hope that within the following years the number of commercially available ”marine drugs” will considerably increase.
Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG