The oceans are a vast resource for the discovery of new medicines. During the past decade, over
5,000 novel compounds have been isolated from marine organisms. But which compounds will help us
solve the mysteries to curing the dread ailments plaguing humankind - like cancer, infectious
diseases, and AIDS? Scientists have made significant advances in biomedical marine research but
the search for cures is far from over. Our progress has been remarkable over recent years in part
due to technological advances in our ability to collect, screen, and assay new candidates for
pharmaceutical potential. Imagine what the next ten to twenty years might bring, as the pace of
technological advance continues.
Compounds derived from certain marine organisms show particular promise as anti-tumor agents, and are of particular interest to the scientists and technicians of HARBOR BRANCH Oceanographic Institution's (HBOI) Division of Biomedical Marine Research (DBMR). Critical to the success of new drug discovery - and ultimately large-scale production - is the ability to culture the organisms or cells that provide the compounds, or to synthesize the active compounds from their key elements. In this way, wild stocks are protected from over harvesting and the cultured supply can be monitored for consistent quality.
Join @Sea and the multidisciplinary team of DBMR researchers and visiting scientists on a voyage to the pristine waters of the Bahamas. The R/V EDWIN LINK and the JOHNSON-SEA-LINK I Research Submersible depart HBOI on October 19th on a brief but focused expedition. Part of their mission is to unravel the complexities of how certain sponges produce their bioactive compounds. Chemists and biologists will attack various aspects of the study in search of answers, applying principles and techniques of microbiology, invertebrate cell culture, molecular biology, and closed-system aquaculture in search of answers.
Investigators will maximize their time in the submersible at depths up to 3000 feet, and in shallow water by snorkeling and scuba. The DBMR team will use the JSL I to document the biodiversity of the deep water benthic communities in the Bahamas. They will collect living specimens for research on sustainable use of marine natural resources - an integral part of the DBMR philosophy of drug discovery. It's the ultimate combination of modern-day adventure and science, and you can share the experience, @Sea!