Ocean Medicines was a network of European and Extra-European academic and research institutions and SMEs across Europe, with proven experience in higher education, training and technical expertise. Extracts identified using this protocol have been purified using targeted chromatographic techniques followed by pioneering compound dereplication strategies leading directly into an accelerated workflow for full structure determination. Therefore, the project has covered various aspects of the supply chain, from cultivation to optimization of the production of specific metabolites, isolation and chemical characterization of these compounds, identification of their cell targets to scale-up cultivation of producing microorganisms. The industrial partners with advanced know-how in compound screening have provided strong support for the selection of key bioactive compounds to be developed as pharmaceuticals, while academic and institutional research partners have offered their expertise in marine chemical ecology, applied phycology and pharmacology. The consortium has improved the feasibility of marine natural products in drug discovery programs by overcoming the historical bottlenecks arising from the combination of factors such as low quantities of secondary metabolites and supply of biological samples, as well as difficulties in isolation of compounds, chemical structure elucidation, early reliable validation of biological activity and best mechanisms of flow-through into exploitation.
The most ambitious goal of the Ocean Medicines consortium has been to establish a network of collaboration and knowledge-exchange between industrial and academic partners to further develop lead compounds from marine microorganisms having anticancer or anti-infective effects that have already been identified by the consortium. The mobility programme has been carried out and a new generation of marine biodiscovery scientists has been trained on how to isolate compounds from bioactive bacteria/microalgae and how to take these through to semi-industrial scale-up for further development and toxicity testing at the pre-clinical level
To achieve these goals, our aim has been to further develop lead compounds from marine microorganisms having anticancer or anti-infective effects that have already been identified by the consortium in on-going EU projects.
The impact for the Society is clear, since Ocean Medicines has established a secondment programme to complement the transfer of technical knowledge between the consortium members. Internships will allow for placement of ESR/ER within the consortium. Industry participation in the internship program is enhancing commercial exploitation of data and technology knowledge transfer to deliver the expected impacts of the project. Commercial based internships in addition to attendance at seminars and workshops will serve to establish invaluable collaborations beyond the lifetime of the Ocean Medicines project.
The Ocean Medicines project ended 30 November 2019, and the final conference was held in Naples at the SZN the 13 December 2019, in which most of the seconded researchers explained their experience.