With new strains of bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics and doctors scrambling for new treatment options, the answer may lie in the sea.
Everyone has heard of MRSA, or Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureaus, which is a hospital acquitted skin infection that is resistant to some of the strongest antibiotics known to man. Medical officials are scared that many other infections may become resistant to current antibiotic therapies, like what is currently happening with Gonorrhea with the overuse and misuse of antibiotic treatments. The concerns are understandable also because a new antibiotic hasn't been approved since 2003.
Because bacterial infections typically are resistant to certain antibiotics for arounda decade before evolving resistance drug companies feel they are fighting an endless expensive war to develop newer antibiotics.
Enter the PharmaSea project, which aims to explore the oceans and organisms from the depths for new novel molecules that haven't been found on land that would be effective in killing harmful bacteria. Many previous expeditions to find new pharmaceuticals were restricted to shallow waters of the tropics. This program aims to search the deep cold waters further from the equator.
The four year project will bring researchers from all over Europe, including UK, Belgium, Norway, Spain, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Denmark and is backed by $9.5 million in funding from the EU. The project will not only be restricted by looking only for antibiotics, but will look for chemicals that could be used in neurology, inflammation and that may be useful in other infectious diseases.
The researchers will start in the Fall of 2013 in the Atacama Trench in the Eastern pacific Ocean around 100 miles off the coast of Peru and Chile.
"With our broad platform of cutting-edge bioassays to detect drug-like activity, we'll be testing many unique chemical compounds from these marine samples that have literally never seen the light of day. We're quite hopeful that we'll find a number of exciting new drug leads," said Dr. Camila Esguerra, Industrial Research Fellow and Lecturer with the Laboratory for Molecular Biodiscovery at the University of Leuven in Belgium.
The project website can be found here.
Published by Medicaldaily.com