Marine Organisms as Antivirals?

blog_slug_diversUCSC enters into collaboration with a biopharmaceutical company to research the possibilities
A new partnership between Gilead Scientists and UC Santa Cruz will explore the possibilities of utilizing UCSC’s unique library of marine natural products in a collaborative antiviral drug discovery program.

The collaboration pairs the UCSC Chemical Screening Center labs led by chemists Roger Linington and Phil Crews, which are particularly interested in drug discovery related to neglected diseases, including malaria, cholera, and African sleeping sickness, with the Gilead biopharmaceutical company, which focuses on advancements in care for life-threatening diseases worldwide. They hope to indetify compounds with potential antiviral activity in the areas of HIV and hepatitis.

In 2007, the UCSC Chemical Screening Center was established  with funding from the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of State, and the California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research. Now, the center’s natural products repository contains a total of approximately 200,000 discrete chemical entities that can be screened for potentially useful biological effects.

This project will be the first to explore use of the lab’s extensive collection of natural products for antiviral potential.

Scott Lokey, director of the Chemical Screening Center and associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, noted the benefits both sides—academics and pharmaceutical companies—bring to these kinds of collaborations, which he says are becoming increasingly more common.

“They don’t have the resources to develop a natural products program on their own, and we don’t have the resources to take an interesting compound and move it into clinical development, so it’s a win-win,” he stated on UCSC’s website, news.ucsc.edu. “Having a partnership with a pharmaceutical company means that something we discover here could translate into a clinically useful drug, and that’s really exciting.”

photo description: Laura Sanchez and Roger Linington collect samples in Monterey Bay. Photo by Steve Clabuesch.


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