Drugs from the Sea

av Ana Zovko, 9–14 februari 2014

Drugs from the sea is an international workshop that gathers latest discoveries in field of marine organisms derived drugs. Some of leading researchers from this field will present their work.
Here is what I have found the most interesting:
David J. Newman from National Laboratory for Cancer Research, USA gave a talk with title Development of Leads to Become Drugs. He was talking about major problems in drug development from classical marine sources. He showed a brief history of marine compounds used in cancer treatment today and emphasizes the importance of chemical synthesis of compounds in order to overcome problem with supply.
Jörn Piel from Institute of Microbiology, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) Zurich, Switzerland was talking about Mining Uncultivated Symbiotic Bacteria with Metagenomic and Single-Cell Strategies. Using metagenomic and single-cell techniques, they provided in silico and functional evidence that a large number of sponge-derived bioactive polyketides and modified peptides are of bacterial origin. They showed that a single producer from Theonella swinhoei Y is a source of diverse compound families, including onnamides, polytheonamides, keramamides, cyclotheonamides, and nazumamides.
Marcel Jaspars from University of Aberdeen, Scotland presented chemoenzymatic synthesis of patellamides produced by seasquirt Lissoclinum patella cyanobacterial symbiont Prochloron sp. Chemoenzymatic synthesis of this compound is enabling production on large scale overcoming supply problems. They are currently developing system to generate a range of highly modified cyclic peptides with a range of ring sizes for biomedicinal applications.
During the workshop there was a poster session in which around 30 posters were presented. Micheal C. Wilson present metagenomic and single-cell genomic evidence that uncultivated sponge symbionts from a new candidate phylum with no cultured representatives have the capacity to produce numerous peptide and polyketide natural products. Gerardo Della Sala presented his results on compounds from the Caribbean sponge Smenospongia aurea which showed potent cytotoxic activity on lung cancer through a clear pro-apoptotic mechanism. Several posters described new compounds from marine organisms which show antibacterial activity.
During the workshop I had an oral presentation of my work. In my postdoctoral project I am exploring extracts from marine sponges. I am screening extracts from sponges collected from different locations for the capacity to trigger cell death in tumor cells. My aim is to identify compound from marine sponge which could be used as novel anti-cancer agents.
This conference was very advantageous for me as it gave me insight in marine biology, drug discovery and development of final product. I got a great input and many new ideas on how to continue with my research plan. I had the opportunity to make new contacts and discuss my results and further work with experts in the field. Taken together this conference was of great interest for my project and I would like to thank you for your support.