Searching for substances from the deep sea to combat osteoporosis and other human common diseases is one of the objectives of the new European research project "BlueGenics" which has received funding of EUR 6 million from the European Commission. Specifically, the international research team, coordinated by Professor Dr. Werner E.G. M-ller from the Institute of Physiological Chemistry of the Mainz University Medical Center, intends to identify and to utilize genetic blueprints from marine organisms, including deep-sea sponges and bacteria, for the production of biomedically relevant substances. The novel research approach provided by this research team will allow the sustainable use of marine resources without negative impact on biodiversity.
"As we can see, by funding this joint large-scale research project the European Union has recognized the need to make every effort to develop new and effective drugs for the prevention and treatment of common diseases, for which efficient therapies are still missing, such as osteoporosis," said the coordinator of the BlueGenics project, Professor Dr. Werner E.G. M-ller. "I am extremely glad that this project has now been successfully started. BlueGenics brings together leading researchers from nine countries. The unique and complementary expertise provided by these and their advanced equipment provide an excellent basis to reach the ambitious objectives of this project," M-ller continued.
The innovative research concept of BlueGenics offers the chance of achieving extraordinary success as seen by the European Commission. The international team of scientists led by the molecular biologist Professor Dr. Werner E.G. M-ller together with NanotecMARIN GmbH, a research-based spin-off company at Mainz University, headed by Professor Dr. Heinz C. Schr-der and Professor Dr. Xiaohong Wang, both also from the Institute of Physiological Chemistry at JGU, have developed a research strategy that aims to combine research on biomedical-relevant genes from marine animals and bacteria with the most advanced chemical synthesis and structure analysis techniques. The team led by M-ller will use this research approach to develop substances up to pre-clinical testing. In this project, the Mainz team will primarily focus on substances that could be used for prophylaxis and/or therapy of osteoporosis as well as on new antimicrobial peptides and compounds with neuroprotective activity.
M-ller and his research team have already demonstrated that bioactive substances can be synthesized by applying recombinant molecular biology techniques. They were able to demonstrate that defensin, a toxin and defense peptide produced by sponges, is bioactive if produced in a recombinant way. "This paves the way for exploiting the large treasure of genetic blueprints present in the world-wide oceans for human benefit," M-ller said.