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.
|Contact: George Hunka|
American Friends of Tel Aviv University