Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Common Marine Sponges May Provide Super-antibiotics Of The Future

Date:
March 4, 2009
Source:
Tel Aviv University
Summary:
No matter how sophisticated modern medicine becomes, common ailments like fungal infections can outrun the best of the world's antibiotics. In people with compromised immune systems (like premature babies, AIDS victims or those undergoing chemotherapy for cancer) the risk is very high: contracting a fungal infection can be deadly.

No matter how sophisticated modern medicine becomes, common ailments like fungal infections can outrun the best of the world's antibiotics. In people with compromised immune systems (like premature babies, AIDS victims or those undergoing chemotherapy for cancer) the risk is very high: contracting a fungal infection can be deadly.

Now Tel Aviv University zoologists are diving deep into the sea to collect unique chemicals — drugs of the future — to beat unnecessary death by fungal infection. And their secret weapon is the common marine sponge.

Prof. Micha Ilan from the Department of Zoology at TAU, who is heading the project, has already identified several alternative antibiotic candidates among the unique compounds that help a sponge fend off predators and infections. He and his graduate students are now identifying, isolating and purifying those that could be the super-antibiotics of the future.

The research group at TAU has found and isolated thousands bacteria and fungi, including a few hundred unique actinobacteria. So far, several tens hold promise as new drugs.

From the Sea to the Lab

"Resistance to antibiotics has become an unbelievably difficult challenge for the medical community," says Prof. Ilan. "Sponges are known for hosting an arsenal of compounds that could work to fight infections. We're now culturing huge amounts of microorganisms, such as actinobacteria, that live in symbiosis with marine sponges."

Marine sponges were recently made famous by the popular Nickelodeon TV cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants, which features a sea sponge who lives in a pineapple beneath the ocean. In real life, sea sponges are animals whose bodies consist of an outer thin layer of cells and an inner mass of cells and skeletal elements. The sedentary creatures don't really have the sort of adventurous life that the cartoon depicts.

Marine sponges can't move. Glued to the seafloor, they must rely on the flow of water through their bodies to collect food and to remove waste. This has led to a unique adaptive response to enemies and competition. Sponges don't have teeth, or shells, but protect themselves by building associations and partnerships with bacteria and fungi. Tel Aviv University is tapping into these relationships — looking at the same chemicals that the sponge uses for defense to fight infection in humans.

Research Combines Several Fields of Study

Drug developers have known for decades about the potential goldmine of pharmaceuticals in the marine environment, particularly among sedentary life like marine sponges.

"One of the major problems is that these novel and natural compounds are found in very small quantities," Prof. Ilan explains. Collecting and extracting such large amounts of these unique chemicals would require huge quantities of animals to be sacrificed, a practice which is not in line with zoological conservationist values. So Prof. Ilan takes cultures from sea sponges with minimal damage to the natural environment. He then grows their symbionts and tests them in a "wet" laboratory. The methods Prof. Ilan has perfected can now be used by other scientists developing pharmaceuticals from marine sponges.

"Our research is unique in that we take both an agricultural and microbiological approach — not found often in the drug discovery community," says Prof. Ilan, whose work is done in collaboration with the School of Chemistry's Prof. Yoel Kashman and Prof. Shmuel Carmeli.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Tel Aviv University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Tel Aviv University. "Common Marine Sponges May Provide Super-antibiotics Of The Future." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090226110743.htm>.
Tel Aviv University. (2009, March 4). Common Marine Sponges May Provide Super-antibiotics Of The Future. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090226110743.htm
Tel Aviv University. "Common Marine Sponges May Provide Super-antibiotics Of The Future." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090226110743.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) — Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) — With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) — Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) — Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins