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Research about Brazilian marine biodiversity brings researchers from 5 countries together

The So Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) presents the Marine Biodiversity Workshop: Recent Improvements in Bioprospection, Biogeography and Phylogeography to be held on September 9 and 10. This scientific meeting is intended to stimulate the formation of research groups involving both Brazilian and foreign scientists towards the development of research on bioprospection, geographic distribution of sea organisms in the Brazilian Coast as well as the search for natural bioactive compounds for pharmaceutical production.

The Marine Biodiversity Workshop also proposes research incentives for the production of data to support the making of laws about the use and protection of diverse marine biomes such as the ones that have already been created in the State of So Paulo with data produced since 1999 by the Biota-FAPESP Program for terrestrial biomes.

"It is a Biota-FAPESP Program's desire to stimulate research and enhance the debate on the sustainable use of Brazilian marine biodiversity resources in cooperative projects involving research groups from Brazil and other countries", says Roberto Berlinck, professor of the Chemistry Institute of the University of So Paulo (USP). "Thus, it will be also possible to educate more scientists to act in this area", concludes the researcher, who takes part of the workshop organization.

Participants from Brazil, the USA, New Zealand, Canada, and Belgium are going to discuss the obtainment of products through different biotechnological applications, the planning of human intervention in the sea environment when faced with the economic relevance of activities such as low environmental impact fishing and the Brazilian marine biodiversity characterization itself.

William Fenical, from the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine (CMBB) of University of California, San Diego (UCSD), researches organic compounds derived from marine microorganisms with effect on cancer and other diseases. In a recent research, he discovered the bacteria known as Salinospora tropica in sediments of the Atlantic Ocean, in a region close to the Bahamas. These bacteria produce an anticarcinogenic agent with a high potential to treat multiple myeloma. The next step is performing tests in human beings. He also discovered a new anti-inflammatory drug derived from soft coral, pseudopterosine, which has already been employed in facial moisturizers produced by the cosmetic industry.

Other compounds with a potential for the development of anticancer drugs found in ocean invertebrates are investigated by Raymond Andersen, from the British Columbia University, in Vancouver (Canada).

Letcia Veras Costa-Lotufo, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Cear, is going to present results from research for the discovery of compounds to treat cancer. These compounds were obtained in invertebrates and microorganisms collected from the Northeastern Coast of Brazil and have reached the pre-clinical stage. Paulo Mouro, Medical Biochemistry Institute, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, is going to present results from research on anticoagulant and antithrombotic agents found in sea urchins.

The expansion of multidisciplinary research on marine biodiversity takes part of a strategy defined in 2009 for the forthcoming 10 years of the Biota-FAPESP Program, which has been supporting research on biodiversity for over 10 years now. A few themes proposed for research projects about marine biodiversity are: the making of inventories about seaside organisms; identification of environmental factors that affect their distribution and abundance; studies about the interactions of such organisms as well as about the environmental impact caused by oil and gas exploitation; and the production of data about biodiversity that might be incorporated to the Brazilian climatic change models.


Contact: Fernando Cunha
Fundao de Amparo Pesquisa do Estado de So Paulo

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