PORTLAND, Ore. OHSU researchers, in partnership with scientists from several other institutions, have published two new research papers that signal how the next class of powerful medications may currently reside at the bottom of the ocean. In both cases, the researchers were focused on ocean-based mollusks a category of animal that includes snails, clams and squid and their bacterial companions.
Sea life studies aid researchers in several ways, including the development of new medications and biofuels. Because many of these ocean animal species have existed in harmony with their bacteria for millions of years, these benign bacteria have devised molecules that can affect body function without side effects and therefore better fight disease.
To generate these discoveries, a research partnership called the Philippine Mollusk Symbiont International Cooperative Biodiversity Group was formed. As the name suggests, the group specifically focuses on mollusks, a large phylum of invertebrate animals, many of which live under the sea. Margo Haygood, Ph.D., an OHSU marine microbiologist, leads the group, with partners at the University of the Philippines, the University of Utah, The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia and Ocean Genome Legacy. Both of these newly published papers are the result of the efforts of this research group.
Here are brief summaries of the two studies:
Shipworms: The source of a new antibiotic
Published in the current edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
The paper focuses on a unique animal called a shipworm, which despite its name is not a worm. Shipworms are mollusks and are clam-like creatures that use their shells as drills and feed on wood by burrowing into the wood fibers. They are best known for affixing themselves to the sides of wooden ships. Over time, their wood feeding causes serious damage to the hull of th
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Oregon Health & Science University