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Underwater sponges and worms may hold key to cure for malaria
Date:6/28/2010

aluate growth inhibitory properties of these samples for malaria parasite growing inside human red blood cells in culture.

One active sample derived from a marine sponge contained the compound Nortopsentin. Because of this compound's initial promise, Chakrabarti said, he's already filed an application for patent protection.

Harbor Branch is one of only three organizations in the country that has the capability to collect deep-sea samples. It has submersible vehicles that dive 3,000 feet underwater to collect samples off Florida's coast. Wright directs the biomedical-marine research program at Harbor Branch.

Chakrabarti's approach of identifying new drugs from marine sources builds on prior research around the globe.

In May, the American Society of Clinical Oncology announced results from a Japanese study concluding that the drug eribulin, derived from sea sponges, was effective in helping patients fight breast, colon and urinary cancer. Scientists in Australia are diving into the Great Barrier Reef to explore the potential healing powers of marine creatures living there.

Locally, Gregory Roth, director of medical chemistry and exploratory pharmacology at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute is working with Harbor Branch on similar research. Sanford-Burnham is one of the UCF College of Medicine's partners at its new health sciences campus in Lake Nona.

Chakrabarti will continue analyzing samples, particularly the 300 already identified as promising, during the next year.

"If we can find two or three good molecules that can be easily synthesized in a lab and that can prevent malaria, I'd be very happy," he said.


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Contact: Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala
zkotala@mail.ucf.edu
407-823-6120
University of Central Florida
Source:Eurekalert  

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