Fermentation for Anticancer Agents

Fermentation for Anticancer Agents

As a leading CDMO, BOC Sciences focuses on fermentation-related projects and provides custom fermentation service for anticancer metabolites. Our extensive fermentation expertise and strong microbial fermentation capabilities can fully meet the needs of our pharmaceutical industry clients.


Microorganisms and have been identified as an important resource for natural product drug discovery. Access to these active compounds from microorganisms is cost effective compared to chemical synthesis methods. Some microorganisms produce cytotoxic factors, enzymes, antibiotics and other secondary metabolites that can specifically target cancer cells. Many microorganisms have been screened for fermentation to produce anticancer compounds, and these metabolites with anticancer activity can modulate immune function, inhibit cell proliferation, and induce apoptosis.

Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide, and resistance to chemotherapeutic agents has prompted the screening of novel anticancer agents. Bioactive compounds produced by microorganisms and plants have emerged as promising alternatives for cancer therapy, such as antibiotics, bacteriocins, non-ribosomal peptides, polyketides, alkaloids, terpenoids, toxins, etc. The screening and fermentation production of anticancer agents derived from microorganisms or plants can help develop novel anticancer drugs with novel mechanisms of action, including blocking signaling pathways, affecting protein synthesis, inhibiting transcription and translation, and reducing angiogenesis.

Fermentation Production of Anticancer Agents

Microorganisms can serve as cell factories for the fermentation production of anticancer natural products through biosynthesis and as platforms for the production of anticancer agents of plant origin (e.g., opioids, alkaloids, and cannabinoids). The fermentation production of anticancer agents involves the development of laboratory-scale host strains, screening of industrial strains, downstream process development, and fermentation scale up, and other technologies.

  • Enhancement of host strain gene expression and optimization of metabolic fluxes
  • Inducing transgene expression and product capture
  • Improving strains to improve their tolerance to the drugs produced
  • Optimizing fermentation conditions for microbial growth
  • Downstream process development to improve purification and recovery efficiency
  • Scaling up the fermentation process for industrial scale production

Classification of Fermented Anticancer Agents

Natural product anticancer agents can be classified according to their mechanism of action as biological response modifiers, topoisomerase inhibitors, protein kinase inhibitors, etc., or as cytotoxic vs. non-cytotoxic, non-specific vs. molecular targeted.

  • Affecting nucleic acid biosynthesis

Cell cycle specific agents that block DNA synthesis at different points and inhibit cell division and proliferation. For example, mitomycin C and bleomycin, which cause DNA single-strand breaks and prevent DNA synthesis.

  • Acts on nucleic acid transcription

Non-specific antitumor agents produced by microorganisms. Some Anticancer antibiotics can inhibit various stages of the transcription cycle. For example, actinomycin D binds to guanine in DNA and distorts DNA, thus blocking transcription; Doxorubicin is embedded between DNA base pairs, interfering with the transcription process and preventing the formation of mRNA.

  • Topoisomerase inhibitors

Topoisomerase inhibitors block the ligation step of the cell cycle, which produces DNA single- and double-stranded breaks, leading to apoptosis. For example, the anthracyclines doxorubicin and epirubicin inhibit DNA replication and transcription and trigger DNA cleavage by topoisomerase II.

  • Molecular targeted

With the advent of the era of molecularly targeted therapies, the focus of research on natural product anticancer agents has shifted to targeted therapies. One strategy is antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), which bind monoclonal antibodies (mAb) to potent cytotoxins via chemical linkers. To date, most of the cytotoxic warheads used in ADCs are derived from natural products, and mechanistically, it can be classified as antimitotic and DNA-damaging agents. ADC payloads include paclitaxel, camptothecin, doxorubicin, duocarmycin, etc.

Our Services

  • Fermentation and semi-synthesis of anticancer agents
  • Discovery and development of anticancer antibiotics
  • Fermentation scale-up of anticancer antibiotics
  • GMP-certified fermentation production of anticancer agents

Why Choose BOC Sciences?

  • Broad portfolio of anti-cancer metabolites
  • Patented metabolite manufacturing method
  • Customized anti-cancer metabolite service
  • Highest volume and availability of supply
  • Production process control and tracking

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