Core Facilities

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Cancer Drug Discovery Core

The Cancer Drug Discovery Core laboratories are in the National Center for Natural Products Research at the Thad Cochran Research Center at the University of Mississippi campus in Oxford. This core houses cell culture facilities and instrumentation to support various assay modalities employing in vitro propagated human cancer cell lines.

Natural product chemistry laboratories within the core also support fractionation, isolation and identification of anti-cancer compounds from various types of natural products.


A primary screen employs an array of 14 luciferase reporter gene assays (transient transfection of Hela cells) that assess activity of many of the signal transduction pathways important for supporting tumor growth, invasion and spread. The assay battery can thus determine an "activity signature" of crude natural product extracts as well as pure compounds. One or more of the assays can then be used to guide isolation and purification of active principles. Several secondary screens are used to further define molecular targets and characteristics of these extracts or pure compounds.


  • Support bio-assay guided fractionation of crude natural product extracts leading to the isolation and identification of active compounds.
  • Identify signal transduction pathways targeted by crude extracts or pure compounds.
  • Provide active principles for more detailed follow-up in more clinically relevant tumor cell lines and in animal models.
  • Guide structural optimization of lead candidates identified in primary screening.

External collaboration

We welcome external collaborations.

For more information

Premalatha Balachandran 
Senior Scientist
National Center for Natural Products Research
University of Mississippi
(662) 915-3463