Project period: September 2018 – April 2019 

This community previously received Initiator Funding for the project: GW4 Cancer Research Consortium

GW4 community leads 
University of Bath: Lorenzo Caggiano (PI) and Julien Licchesi 
University of Bristol: Kathreena Kurian 
Cardiff University: Chris Marshall & Stephen Paisey 
University of Exeter: Jacqueline Whatmore 

Project overview 
From Daffodils to Drugs – this community investigated synthetic analogues of compounds found in daffodil bulbs to treat brain tumours.


In our lifetime, more than 1 in 3 of us will develop cancer of some sort. Fortunately, due to great advances in drug discovery, many of these cases can now be treated. The fight against cancer, however, is not over as many cancers, such as pancreatic, prostate and brain, remain difficult to treat. Furthermore, drug resistance and unwanted side-effects means there is a constant need to develop new drugs. Our research is focused on biologically active compounds found in nature, in particular narciclasine and pancratistatin obtained from the daffodil (narcissus), which exhibit potent and selective anticancer activity against a variety of cancers including the most aggressive form of brain cancer glioblastoma multiforme. This is a critical area since only 10% of patients with Glioblastoma are alive 5 years after diagnosis.  

Project summary 

The community used the funds primarily for lab-based experiments. They successfully synthesised the target compound and established robust methodology for this process; this will be published for the benefit other researchers in this area and to assist the synthesis of similar compounds for testing. In addition, the community conducted cell-based studies on the natural product narciclasine that generated significant results which will also be published. 

Through placements in partner laboratories during these experiments, community members developed new skills and knowledge. Over the course of the project the community consolidated the Brain Cancer research community formed during their previous Initiator Award and submitted two multi-centre collaborative research grants.  

Community site (GW4 Portal)