News

201501OCT

Congratulations to SeaBioTech for hosting the 9th ECMNP in Glasgow

The first European Conference on Marine Natural Products (ECMNP) has taken off in 1997 from Athens and organised by Professor Vassilious Roussis.  After realising that European young scientists were not able to attend the major international meetings, which was mostly graced by more senior scientists, the organisers of the ECMNP has focused its attentions in stimulating the younger generation of scientists in the areas of marine chemistry to promote active interaction and future collaboration around the world. In the European conference series, young scientists present their work and get the experience of the international scientific atmosphere by sharing the stage with plenary lectures delivered by outstanding senior experts in the field. It is worth mentioning that in this year’s conference, 50% of the participants are young PhD student researchers and 20% postdoc scientists working in marine natural products research.
The 9th ECMNP in Glasgow (31 August to 3 September 2015) follows its predecessors in La Toja (2013), Tjärnö (2011), Porto (2009), Ischia (2007), Paris (2005), Elmau (2002), Santiago de Compostela (1999), and Athens (1997). After 18 years and 8 events, it is most inspiring and uplifting to perceive that many of the young scientists in the initial events are now established and leading active groups in the European marine research community.  The European conference is organized every two years alternating with the Gordon Conferences on Marine Natural Products while the international MaNaPro Symposia is held every three years.
The 9th ECMNP welcomed 188 participants in Glasgow from around Europe as well as from America, Asia, Australia, and Africa. Under the theme: “The sea as sustainable source of new medicine and renewable energy”, our target audience includes scientists both from the academia and the industry working not only in the field of marine natural product chemistry but also pharmacology, microbiology, biotechnology, and ecology. The conference will highlight the evolution of marine natural products chemistry to a multi-disciplinary field of research. The 9th ECMNP in Glasgow will be partly supported by three EU-FP7 consortia: SeaBioTech, BlueGenics, and PharmaSea. The three industry-focused EU-FP7 consortia being under the same marine biotechnology umbrella aims to increase the involvement and participation of SME in this conference through oral and poster presentations.  We have plenary and invited speakers from both the Industry and Academia.  For the first time, there would be a session on Marine Policy delivered by experts to provide greater awareness on international laws of bioprospecting covered by UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and the Nagoya Protocol.
For this year’s conference, a one-day free kick-off pre-conference workshop is offered to 60 young participants. The workshop is hosted by the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, organised by SeaBioTech and PharmaSea. The aim of the workshop is to integrate and disseminate the project objectives and methodologies of five marine biotechnology FP7 consortia (Micro B3, Macumba, BlueGenics, PharmaSea and Seabiotech) to younger scientists involved in marine research. This is in line with the objectives of the ECMNP in promoting Marine Natural Products Research to a younger generation of scientists.

Dr. RuAngelie Edrada-Ebel

Chair, 9th ECMNP


201516JAN

ECMNP 2015 - Registration Now Open!

ECMNP 2015 - Registration and Abstract Submission is Open!

Glasgow will host the 9th European Marine Natural Products Conference from Sunday 30th August-Wednesday 2nd September 2015 at the newly built Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC), University of Strathclyde.

Registration is Open!

Register online now and qualify for the early rate saving up to £60!
Registration includes attendance to all sessions, tea/coffee and lunch on full days and attendance at the Welcome Reception on Sunday 30th August.

Abstract Submission Deadline:
Friday 8th May 2015
Abstract Notification to Authors:
Monday 18th May 2015
Early Registration Deadline:
Friday 29th May 2015

Visit the ECMNP 2015 website


201407JUN

SeaBioTech takes part in Glasgow Science Festival

SeaBioTech invites the public to experience the importance of marine life and research for our environment. Interactive exhibits will be open for kids of all ages at the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences.

201409MAY

Ocean medicine hunt: A Wild West beneath the waves?

click on the link to see the video

By Rebecca Morelle
Science correspondent, BBC News, Oban, west Scotland
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-27295159

In the crystal clear waters off the west coast of Scotland a hunt is under way. Divers glide through forests of brown seaweed, passing sea urchins and shark eggs. It's an unlikely spot to be at the forefront of cutting-edge medical research, but scientists say the oceans could hold the key to finding the next generation of life-saving drugs. The divers finally emerge and bring their haul up on to the boat. They've carefully selected a few starfish, which thrive in the waters around Oban. Some species contain anti-inflammatory chemicals that could be developed for new treatments for asthma and arthritis. But they're just one of the organisms being investigated for their medical potential. Scientists say unusual compounds and gene sequences in some marine creatures and plants could lead to anything from much-needed new antibiotics to cancer drugs.

Dr Andrew Mogg is a scientific diver at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (Sams). The organisation is part of a consortium called Seabiotech that's received more than 6.2m from the European Union to scour the depths. He says: "The reason we look at these novel bioactive compounds, especially from the sea, is because nature is a fantastic designer - it's constantly making new things and testing them, it's been doing it for eons."

The oceans cover more than two thirds of Earth's surface, yet we've only dipped our toes in the water when it comes to our understanding of this vast expanse - just 5% has so far been explored. And it's this untapped potential that is sparking a medical gold rush. Investment in this area is growing steadily. In the next phase of the European Union's research budget, 145m euros is heading for the seas.

Dr John Day, a marine scientist from Sams, says much of what is "findable" on land has already been found. But he adds: "Historically (the ocean) isn't a place that people have looked, so they haven't exploited it. In addition there's a whole raft of new technologies allowing one to screen more methodically and more scientifically and produce more useful data that can point you towards a final product. And of course a political will - we're looking to how can we exploit other parts of the planet to produce new industries and technologies."

But a lack of clarity over legislation could prove a setback for this burgeoning area of research. Within 200 nautical miles of a country's coastline is the Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ). In these territorial waters, there are clearly defined laws about how the sea can be exploited. And if a country has signed up to the Nagoya Protocol, an update to the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity, they have an additional responsibility to ensure that any exploitation in their waters is fair and sustainable. But beyond that boundary are the high seas: the stretch of international ocean that nobody owns. And this area is governed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This regulates activities such as mineral exploitation, but it doesn't cover so-called ocean bioprospecting.

Dr Day explains: "In open waters, this is a very grey and murky area as far as I'm concerned. At present, as far as I'm aware, there are very few laws that would cover exploitation of that material. The Law of the Sea focuses on what is on the ocean floor or beneath it, and it also specifies non-mobile organisms - and there doesn't seem to be definitive legislation with regards to what is in the water column."

This is a concern, because this Wild West of the seas is home to an extraordinary range of creatures and plants. Simply to survive, they have to adapt to extremes of temperature, pressure and darkness - and it's this hardiness that makes them so attractive to scientists. The worry is that, without regulation, fragile habitats could be damaged beyond repair.

Environmental damage would be limited, says the co-director of the Seabiotech consortium Prof Linda Harvey from the University of Strathclyde, because most research involves collecting relatively small samples to analyse back at the lab. But she believes the dearth of clear rules could cause other problems. "It's particularly important for companies to have legal clarity when they're working in open waters because they're making a huge investment," she explains. It will cost money to develop the drug and put it through clinical trials and if they don't have legal certainty they will potentially lose the right to produce that drug and it's not acceptable to them. And in my opinion that would put companies off investing in taking samples from the deep-sea environment."

In Belgium, scientists, UN representatives and conservationists have been meeting to discuss the problem. Prof Marcel Jaspars, from the University of Aberdeen, runs Pharmasea - another EU-funded consortium carrying out research in this area. He says that a new mechanism is needed to make sure any profits from the deep sea are shared. "If you were to discover anything, any royalties would lie in the future," he explains. "The question is how to police that 20 years hence? We need to know who is out there, and how they will list the fact that they have collected something. Then you will need to track where it goes next - the progress of a project from the initial collector to the person who uses it in a lab to the drug - can involve many changes of hands." He says profits could go into a central pot - perhaps administered by the UN - either in the form of a fee paid for a licence to carry out the exploration or as payments once the development of the drug begins. The money could then be ploughed back into ocean research and monitoring.

For now, though, back on the shores of Scotland, the work continues. In a stunning spot of coastline, overlooked by Culzean Castle, Scottish firm Marine Biopolymers Ltd is taking advantage of the low tide to harvest piles of brown, slimy seaweed. The company's director David Mackie says: "We're extracting chemicals from the inside of it - it's a natural polymer called alginate. The best medical use is wound dressing. Alginate is well established as a very effective wound dressing for certain types of wounds." He hopes to soon open a plant so the process can be repeated on an industrial scale. But it's early days.

Bringing new drugs to market can take 15 years and cost more than a billion pounds.This though would be a drop in the ocean, if this new frontier in medical research lives up to its promise.



201330JUL

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

Seas to be scoured for treasure trove of medicines

Oceans could be awash with cancer cures and antibiotics, Strathclyde academics believe. As part of the SeaBioTech project, a team led by Professor Brian McNeil has been awarded £6.3 million to scour the seas for chemicals and compounds that can be used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, food and industrial chemistry sectors.

Professor McNeil, of the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences said that, even though marine biodiversity is known to be far greater than that found on land, scientists know remarkably little about the full extent of the world's underwater resources. He said: "Marine microbial biodiversity can only be guessed at. Very few studies have been done using modern detection techniques but indications are that there are many new species of micro-organisms awaiting discovery.

"With the application of modern approaches to discovery and identification of such organisms and their products, it is now possible to explore them for potentially useful products, such as antibiotics, other anti-infectives, anti-inflammatories, and anti-cancer treatments. We're looking to identify new products from the marine environment, such as antibiotics, and find ways to sustainably manufacture them on an industrial scale. Our research has the potential to dramatically reduce the soaring costs of drugs, which are putting tremendous financial strains on health systems around the world. There are numerous examples of current medicines, including anti-cancer drugs, which cost tens of thousands of pounds per round of treatment for each patient."

 



201326JUN

Visit by schoolchildren to SIPBS 26th June 2013

 


Programme of events for the visit  by senior pupils from Springburn and St.Mungo’s academies to the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences (SIPBS)

 Wednesday 26th June 2013

 Location               HW113/114

10.00am          Welcome by Alan McCruden Head of teaching SIPBS

Short talks

“A New Bug Virus Detector”       Dimitrios Lamprou

HNS-LIGHT: Shedding light on hospital contamination       Michelle MacLean          

Saving Lives of Children and Mothers     Enitome Bafor

Overview of the SeaBio Tech project     Lynsey McIntyre/ Mariana Fazenda

11.10 – 11.40am        Interaction with   - Lock and Key   Geoff Coxon

11.45am-12.30pm     Interaction with:  Who needs a brain?       

                                Film / software interaction  Jamie 0’Reilly

                                Computerised Molecular modelling  Nahoum Anthony

                                Molecular modelling   Jennifer              

12.30 -1.30pm    LUNCH

1.30-3.00pm       Laboratory HW 227

The Virtual Cat demonstration  Margaret Mcdonald

SeaBio Tech* laboratory based demonstration 

Lynsey McIntyre / Grainne Abbott

                        Pipetting, Plates and Probes (hands on lab. skills)  Louise Young  

 


              


201316MAY

Europe researches SeabioTech

Strathclyde University researchers with a team of 14 European organisations, appreciating that oceans and seas have the potential for chemicals and compounds and materials that could range from cancer cures to antibiotics are to work on the SeabioTech project.

201316MAY

Seas to be scoured for treasure trove of medicines

As part of the SeaBioTech project, a team led by Strathclyde's Professor Brian McNeil has been awarded £6.3 million to scour the seas for chemicals and compounds that can be used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, food and industrial chemistry sectors.

 Professor McNeil, of the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, told how - even though marine biodiversity is known to be far greater than that found on land - scientists know remarkably little about the full extent of the world's underwater resources. He said: "Marine microbial biodiversity can only be guessed at. Very few studies have been done using modern detection techniques - but indications are that there are many new species of micro-organisms awaiting discovery.

 "With the application of modern approaches to discovery and identification of such organisms and their products, it is now possible to explore them for potentially useful products, such as antibiotics, other anti-infectives, anti-inflammatories, and anti-cancer treatments. We're looking to identify new products from the marine environment, such as antibiotics, and find ways to sustainably manufacture them on an industrial scale. We at Strathclyde excel in our ability to find new compounds - such as anti-cancer and anti-infective drugs - and have decades' worth of experience in testing how effective they are.

 "Our research has the potential to dramatically reduce the soaring costs of drugs, which are putting tremendous financial strains on health systems around the world. There are numerous examples of current medicines, including anti-cancer drugs, which cost tens of thousands of pounds per round of treatment for each patient. To address this issue, we will also carefully consider how these marine products, such as anti-bacterial agents, can be mass-produced at prices health services can realistically afford.

 "Another crucial element of our work will be to look at legislation around international marine resources. We will put into the public domain a knowledge database which will define the source locations of marine resources. We also aim to contribute to evolving European legislation guiding the sustainable exploitation of these resources, in accordance with the Nagoya Protocol respecting the rules of the provider countries."

 The Nagoya Protocol was signed in Japan in October 2010 at the tenth Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The CBD - an internationally legally-binding treaty set up in 1992 - states its aims as "the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies, taking into account all rights over those resources and to technologies, and by appropriate funding".

 The Strathclyde SeaBioTech team includes Dr Ruangelie Edrada Ebel and Professors Linda Harvey and Alan Harvey, with Professor McNeil as overall programme co-ordinator. Professor McNeil said the 14-partner SeaBioTech project - which will last for four years - is harnessing an unrivalled European pool of knowledge in the field of marine biotechnology. He added: "To achieve our goals, we have brought together complementary and world-leading experts - integrating biology, genomics, natural product chemistry, bioactivity testing, industrial bioprocessing, legal aspects, market analysis, and knowledge exchange.

 "The expertise assembled within the consortium reflects the industry-defined needs, from the definition of potential market and product opportunities to proof-of-concept activities. SeaBioTech will have a significant impact on research and technology, on innovation, on European competitiveness and on economic growth. It will also serve the wider purpose of providing a model to accelerate the development of European biotechnology into a world-leading position."



201302MAY

Marine genetic resources UNHQ

Intersessional Workshop on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction

Panels  7  &  8  

 

Addressing  collective  marine  biotech  and  bioprospecting  challenges:  development,  coordination  and  alignment  of  national,  regional  and  pan‐European  research  strategies  and  programmes

Jan‐Bart  Calewaert  

(JCalewaert@esf.org)

 

Marine Biotechnology encompasses those efforts that involve marine environment and its bioresources, either as source or target of biotechnological applications. An important component of marine biotechnology comprises bioprospecting activities in search of Marine Genetic Resources (MGR), including from areas beyondnational jurisdiction (ABNJ), to create a range of biotechnological products and applications (e.g. new drugs and biomedical applications and novel enzymes of industrial interest). Interest in marine biotechnology has grown rapidly in the past decade owing to a recognition of the sheer scale of opportunity presented by the largely unexplored and immense biodiversity of our seas and oceans and the need to meet growing demands for food and new human health and new industrial products and applications that cannot be satisfied from terrestrial sources alone. The marine environment accounts for over 90% of the biosphere and an increasing number of scientists and entrepreneurs now believe that marine biotechnology represents an important key to unlocking the huge potential of the unique biodiversity of marine organisms and ecosystems. This growing interest is among others reflected in the growing number of gene patents associated with MGR with 95% of claims filed after 2000.
Recognizing the enormous potential of marine biotechnology to provide contributions to address some of the most burning societal challenges of today, a number of science policy discussions took place over the last 15 years to identify strategic actions to promote research and development in this field. These initiatives have also highlighted a number of important challenges and barriers that will have to be resolved and/or clarified to allow for a commercially viable, sustainable and ethical use of available marine genetic resources. For example, recent strategic assessments in the framework of among others the EC Collaborative Working Group on Marine Biotechnology (See CWG‐MB scoping paper available at http://ec.europa.eu/research/bioeconomy/pdf/cwg‐mb_to_kbbenet_report_final.pdf), the US‐EU Task Force on Marine Biotechnology and the Marine Board Working Group on Marine Biotechnology (See Marine Board Position Paper 15 on Marine Biotechnology available at www.marineboard.eu/publications), have highlighted the wide range of legal and policy ambiguities, barriers and challenges associated with marine biodiscovery activities. In response, the European Commission has funded a range of projects to address these issues, notably the EU FP7 Projects PharmaSea (http://www.pharma‐sea.eu), Bluegenics, SeaBioTech (http://spider.science.strath.ac.uk/seabiotech/) and MicroB3 (http://www.microb3.eu). Part of the PharmaSea project and its advisory groups, for example, will focus on:
•- The disparity between the provisions and principles of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the need to protect research investments by securing intellectual property rights (IPR);
•- The lack of a common European position on the simplification and harmonisation of regulations on access and fair and equitable benefit sharing from the exploitation of MGR in the EU and beyond;
•- The lack of ready‐to‐use, understandable, comprehensive and practical information for users (academic and industry researchers) on how to obtain access to MGR.

Another issue that has emerged as an important shortcoming is the fragmentation of the research efforts and infrastructures in Europe and the lack of information about who is doing what where and why. This knowledge is important to allow coherent and efficient European and international collaboration. In response, the European Commission has facilitated the creation of a range of coordination initiatives aimed at:
•‐ Increasing our understanding of the science policy landscape (research strategies, policies and programmes) in relation to marine biotechnology research and development in various European countries (and beyond);
•‐ Improving the collaboration between different research programme managers and developers by establishing a network of funding agencies.

This presentation will provide insight in relevant European efforts to coordinate the various actors involved in marine biotechology and bioprospecting activities including policy, industry and research. In particular, the presentation will draw from landscape profiling done by the recently completed EU FP7 Coordination and Support Action in Marine Biotechnology (CSA MarineBiotech), a collaborative network consisting of 11 partners from 9 European countries, which has worked intensively to explore the opportunities and needs for European coordination, trans‐national cooperation and joint activities in the area of marine biotechnology research.

 

 



News

Congratulations to SeaBioTech for hosting the 9th ECMNP in Glasgow

.... more

ECMNP 2015 - Registration Now Open!
Glasgow will host the 9th European Marine Natural Products Conference from Sunday 30th August-Wednesday 2nd September 2015 at the newly built Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC), University of Strathclyde. .... more

Meetings

Glasgow hosts 9th ECMNP in 2015
SeaBioTech along with PharmaSea and Bluegenics won the bid to host the 9th ECMNP 2015 in Glasgow. ECMNP2015 will be organised by four Scottish Universities along with the Phytochemical Society of Europe.... more

SeaBioTech 2014 Annual Meeting
Matis will be hosting the 2014 General Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland.... more