Cancer Institute

  • David S. Pasco

    Associate Director, National Center for Natural Products Research
    Research Professor of Pharmacognosy
    Molecular Cancer Therapeutics
    Director, Cancer Drug Discovery Core, NCNPR, Oxford Campus

    PhD, Physiology, 1980, University of Buffalo, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, NY
    Postdoc, 1979-81, Cancer Research Lab, University of California at Berkeley

    Contact information 
    P.O. Box 1848
    Thad Cochran Research Center, Room 2043
    University, MS 38677
    Phone: (662) 915-7130


    Research interests

    • Identification of compounds within plants that influence intracellular signaling pathways involved in the regulation of tumor cell growth and progression.
    • NF-kappa B pathway
    • Identification of innate immune enhancing agents that can benefit cancer patient immune status.

    Research synopsis

    Dr. Pasco's research interests include developing biological screens that use molecular tools to identify compounds within plants that contribute to their health benefits, especially those that exhibit anti-cancer and immune enhancing properties. These include compounds that exhibit anti-inflammatory and other activities that could impact tumor progression or target cancer stem cells. He is especially interested in developing multi component formulations tailored to specific types of tumors. These formulations would target the signaling pathways that contribute to the maintenance of the transformed phenotype of different tumor types.

    His research also deals with the isolation and identification of innate immune enhancing components within natural products that have been used traditionally to enhance immune function. Some of this research has led to the development of two patented and commercialized botanical extracts, one for general enhancement of immune function (Spirulina extract-Immulina®) and the other for improving skin elasticity and wrinkle reduction (fraction from Aloe vera). Numerous clinical trials have been conducted using these products and several more are underway.

    Selected publications

    • Activities and Prevalence of Proteobacteria Members Colonizing Echinacea purpurea Fully Account for Macrophage Activation Exhibited by Extracts of This Botanical. Haron MH, Tyler HL, Pugh ND, Moraes RM, Maddox VL, Jackson CR, Pasco DS. Planta Med. 2016 Sep;82(14):1055/s-0041-108590. Epub 2016 Jun 10.  PMID: 27286330
    • Protein-bound polysaccharide-K induces IL-1β via TLR2 and NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Yang Y, Inatsuka C, Gad E, Disis ML, Standish LJ, Pugh N, Pasco DS, Lu H.  Innate Immun. 2014 Nov; 20(8):857-66. doi: 10.1177/1753425913513814. Epub 2013 Dec 9.
    • Oral administration of a Spirulina extract enriched for Braun-type lipoproteins protects mice against influenza A (H1N1) virus infection. Pugh ND, Edwall D, Lindmark L, Kousoulas KG, Iyer AV, Haron MH, Pasco DS. Phytomedicine. 2015 Feb 15;22(2):271-6. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2014.12.006. Epub 2014 Dec 29.
    • Enhancement of natural killer cell activity in healthy subjects by Immulina®, a Spirulina extract enriched for Braun type lipoproteins. Nielsen CH, Balachandran P, Christensen O, Pugh ND, Tamta H, Sufka KJ, Wu X, Walsted A, Schjørring-Thyssen M, Enevold C, Pasco DS. Planta Med. 76:1802-1808, 2010.
    • The majority of in vitro macrophage activation exhibited by extracts of some immune-enhancing botanicals is due to bacterial lipoproteins and lipopolysaccharides. Pugh ND, Tamta H, Balachandran P, Wu X, Howell J, Dayan FE, Pasco DS. Int Immunopharmacol. 8(7):1023-1032, 2008.
    • Inhibition of NF-kappaB-mediated transcription and induction of apoptosis by melampolides and repandolides. Ma G, Khan SI, Benavides G, Schuhly W, Fischer NH, Khan IA, Pasco DS.Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 60(1):35-43, 2007.
    • Effect of essential oils and isolated compounds from Pimpinella species on NF-kappaB: a target for anti-inflammatory therapy. Tabanca N, Ma G, Pasco DS, Bedir E, Kirimer N, Baser KH, Khan IA, Khan SI. Phytother Res.; 21(8):741-745, 2007.
    • Toll-like receptor 2-dependent activation of monocytes by Spirulina polysaccharide and its immune enhancing action in mice.Balachandran, P., Pugh, N.D., Ma, G., Pasco, D.S. Int Immunopharmacol. 6:1808-1814, 2006.