|An elephant ear sponge (Agelas clathrodes). Photo: NURC/UNCW and NOAA/FGBNMS|
Anne Trafton, MIT News Office
Deep in the ocean, sponges of the Agelas family, or bacteria living within the sponges, emit chemicals believed to help them defend their territory. Those chemicals, called agelastatins, have also shown the ability to kill cancer cells. For that reason, chemists have been trying to find ways to synthesize agelastatins in the laboratory since the chemicals were discovered in 1993.