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Ocean Medicines

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Ocean Medicines (Ocean Medicines)

Reporting period: 2017-12-01 to 2019-11-30

Ocean Medicines was a network of European and Extra-European academic and research institutions and SMEs across Europe, with proven experience in higher education, training and technical expertise. Extracts identified using this protocol have been purified using targeted chromatographic techniques followed by pioneering compound dereplication strategies leading directly into an accelerated workflow for full structure determination. Therefore, the project has covered various aspects of the supply chain, from cultivation to optimization of the production of specific metabolites, isolation and chemical characterization of these compounds, identification of their cell targets to scale-up cultivation of producing microorganisms. The industrial partners with advanced know-how in compound screening have provided strong support for the selection of key bioactive compounds to be developed as pharmaceuticals, while academic and institutional research partners have offered their expertise in marine chemical ecology, applied phycology and pharmacology. The consortium has improved the feasibility of marine natural products in drug discovery programs by overcoming the historical bottlenecks arising from the combination of factors such as low quantities of secondary metabolites and supply of biological samples, as well as difficulties in isolation of compounds, chemical structure elucidation, early reliable validation of biological activity and best mechanisms of flow-through into exploitation.
The most ambitious goal of the Ocean Medicines consortium has been to establish a network of collaboration and knowledge-exchange between industrial and academic partners to further develop lead compounds from marine microorganisms having anticancer or anti-infective effects that have already been identified by the consortium. The mobility programme has been carried out and a new generation of marine biodiscovery scientists has been trained on how to isolate compounds from bioactive bacteria/microalgae and how to take these through to semi-industrial scale-up for further development and toxicity testing at the pre-clinical level
To achieve these goals, our aim has been to further develop lead compounds from marine microorganisms having anticancer or anti-infective effects that have already been identified by the consortium in on-going EU projects.
The impact for the Society is clear, since Ocean Medicines has established a secondment programme to complement the transfer of technical knowledge between the consortium members. Internships will allow for placement of ESR/ER within the consortium. Industry participation in the internship program is enhancing commercial exploitation of data and technology knowledge transfer to deliver the expected impacts of the project. Commercial based internships in addition to attendance at seminars and workshops will serve to establish invaluable collaborations beyond the lifetime of the Ocean Medicines project.
The Ocean Medicines project ended 30 November 2019, and the final conference was held in Naples at the SZN the 13 December 2019, in which most of the seconded researchers explained their experience.
At the end of the project we have fully characterized the biological activity profile of the compounds isolated and have determined their potential interest to be developed as anticancer or anti-infective agents; furthermore,we have characterized the polyketide cyclase enzyme, to confirm the presence of a polyketide synthase and to identify both precursors and final products.
The Ocean Medicines project was presented during the Plenary Lecture at the VI Congress of the Serbian Genetic Society 13-17 October 2019. During the Plenary Lecture entitled: “Marine Environment as source of new multiactivity pigments and multiactivity pigments and bioactive molecules” give n by the Coordinator D. de Pascale.
During the Bioprosp meeting, Tromso 23-25 February 2018, the Ocean Medicines project was presented in posters and communications.
The following publications, citing Ocean Medicines as a founding source, have been published or are currently in press. All articles have been published or will be published as Open Access papers.
Due to their early-stage training, most of the researchers have not yet published their findings, but they were involved in paper writing.
"Although there is no tangible benefit as yet, the hope is that the continuation of the project through other mechanisms will result in the discovery of new drugs through the use of marine biotechnology, to help advance the Drug Industry to begin producing more effective drugs to combat diseases, and for human health and nutrition. This project therefore has both a social and economic impact as many enzymes and compounds from marine sources are being used as the basis for many biotechnology applications, a multibillion dollar industry. This (drug discovery and development) however is a very long process, but this project proves that our biodiversity is ""hot"" and holds so much promise for future commercialization objectives. Therefore, there is a real possibility for the discovery of completely novel structures with potentially valuable bioactivity properties for pharmaceutical development out of the hits we have identified in this project. Lastly, the specific focus of this project on novel antimicrobial strategies, especially against antibiotic resistant pathogens, is well aligned to assisting the Department of Health in its commitment to the Antimicrobial Resistance National Strategy Framework.
Taking into account the above premises, in the final reporting period we have contributed the expected impacts as follows.
1. Technical capability. All seconded researcher have developed their technical skills within their individual research projects in cooperation with the host institution. Some of the seconded researcher have increased their exposure to different research environments and enlarged their overall vision of the project.
2. Employability. Although it is definitely too early for evaluating how the Ocean Medicines programme will influence the researcher’s employability after the end of the project, it can be said that the training is being performed by exposing the researchers to a mixture of technical and conceptual/scientific issues, so as to provide each researcher allow with a number of different tools that will enable them to successfully tackle several diverse working environments.
3. Entrepreneurial spirit. This also is something that is developing with time. Most of the researchers are very young, and their major goal at present is to learn as many techniques as possible, running as many experiments as possible, co-authoring some papers, and getting their PhD. On the other hand, the goal of the PIs is that of making the fellows understand that together with the technical skills and experimental work, other issues are equally important for their growth as real scientists. How to translate their scientific results into tangible outputs, which can be exploited and used for furthering the quality of human life is an issue that the Ocean Medicines researchers have clear in mind and that will hopefully learn to implement towards the end of the programme."
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