Scripps scientists discover rich medical drug resource in deep ocean sediments

d subtropical oceans, but never seen before on land.

The results from their biomedical studies were extraordinarily positive. Of 100 strains of these organisms tested, 80 percent produced molecules that inhibit cancer cell growth. Roughly 35 percent revealed the ability to kill pathogenic bacteria and fungi. Based on the worldwide distribution of Salinospora, Fenical estimates that many thousands of strains will be available.

"I would even go as far as to say that never before has this level of biological activity been observed within a single group of organisms," said Fenical.

These discoveries have been patented by the University of California and licensed to Nereus Pharmaceuticals Inc. for subsequent development. Nereus is a four-year-old biotech company in San Diego, Calif. dedicated to the development of new drugs from this new source for drug discovery.

"These extraordinary marine discoveries by Scripps Institution, coupled with their industrialization by Nereus Pharmaceuticals, could provide the next great source of drug discovery for the pharmaceutical industry," said Kobi Sethna, president and CEO of Nereus Pharmaceuticals.

"These discoveries speak to the future of antibiotic discovery," said Fenical. "They point to the fact that the ocean is an incredibly exciting new microbial resource. They indicate how little we know, and they demonstrate how much we need to invest in further exploration of the oceans."

In addition to Fenical, coauthors on the papers include Tracy Mincer, Paul Jensen, Christopher Kauffman, Robert Feling, and Greg Buchanan.


Contact: Mario Aguilera or Cindy Clark
University of California - San Diego

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