Marine life forms are an important source of structurally diverse and biologically active secondary metabolites, several of which have inspired the development of therapeutic agents. These success stories have had to overcome difficulties inherent to natural products-derived drugs, such as adequate sourcing of the agent and issues related to structural complexity. Nevertheless, several marine-derived agents are now approved, most as ‘‘first-in-class’’ drugs, with five of seven appearing in the past few years.
Additionally, there is a rich pipeline of clinical and preclinical marine compounds to suggest their continued application in human medicine. Understanding of how these agents are biosynthetically assembled has accelerated in recent years, especially through interdisciplinary approaches, and innovative manipulations and re-engineering of some of these gene clusters are yielding novel agents of enhanced pharmaceutical properties compared with the natural product.