Marine sponges harbour extremely diverse populations of microbes, and are world record holders for the production of a plethora of bioactive molecules. Previous studies, however, aiming at the growth of sponges or their associated microbes for the production of bioactive compounds to supply biological material for clinical trials, have been largely unsuccessful.
BLUEPHARMTRAIN is a multi-disciplinary alliance of 20 academic and industrial partners that will excel in research and training through integration of complementary expertise in cell biology, microbiology, natural product chemistry, genomics & transcriptomics (omics) and socio-economics. We will adopt cutting-edge omics technologies to give a new boost to the more traditional disciplines: microbial isolation, cell culture and natural product chemistry to go beyond the current scientific frontiers. For example, metagenomic and transcriptomic data will be applied to identify the metabolic potential and restrictions of -yet- uncultured microbes and will serve for the design of tailor-made cultivation conditions. In addition, heterologous expression of bioactive gene clusters and enzymes able to perform unusual modifications will serve as an alternative strategy to unlock the bioactive potential of sponges. Thus we aim to develop an extensive technology platform that is applicable for obtaining a wide variety of bioactive compounds from distinct sponges and their microbes.
BLUEPHARMTRAIN will provide a complementary set of experimental and conceptual local and network-wide training modules and workshops to 15 young researchers. The recruited fellows will work towards personalized training plans to meet individual needs and interests, generating a critical mass of young researchers in the emerging field of blue biotechnology. The presence of a large consortium of versatile biotechnology, pharmaceutical and consultancy firms ensures a good balance between academic and transferable skills acquired by the fellows.