Teaming Up

Teaming Up

New Partnership Aims to Improve Quality of Life

While the sea holds vast possibilities to treat cancer, dementia and aging, developing therapeutics from marine natural products libraries is costly and a lengthy process. A new collaboration between FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and Atlantia BiowoRx could accelerate the process.

Natural products are small organic molecules made by plants, animals and microorganisms, which are not essential to sustain life but provide advantages to the producing organisms, said Amy Wright, Ph.D., research professor at FAU Harbor Branch and principal investigator of the natural products chemistry team. “These compounds evolve to have biological activity and useful properties. Some familiar examples are antibiotics such as penicillin made by fungi and bacteria, or fragrances produced by plants such as roses, citronella or many spices,” she said.

Since 1984, FAU Harbor Branch’s Marine Biomedical and Biotechnology Research program researchers have closely examined natural chemicals from deep sea corals and sponges, as well as the microorganisms that live within them, for treatments to antibiotic resistant infections and aggressive cancers. The institute has a collection of more than 19,000 marine microbes that are rich in natural products.

“There has always been a question of scaling discoveries from marine natural products, in order to accommodate ingredient production. Industrial scaling has been the fundamental issue that has largely prevented these organisms from being researched by multi-national consumer product companies,” said Douglas Lynch, CEO and founder of Atlantia BiowoRx, which develops bioactives from organisms collected from the ocean. The goal is to “improve quality of life and contribute to a longer, healthier lifespan,” Lynch said. “I am very pleased to partner with the great team of researchers at Florida Atlantic University and the Marine Biomedical and Biotechnology Research program.”

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“The Harbor Branch natural products library is a unique university asset that is the result of many years of hard work by our expert researchers. Through strategic collaborations with companies like Atlantia BiowoRx, FAU can take an important step forward in evaluating the library’s contents and developing products in the nutrition, healthcare and personal care spaces that can help people live longer, healthier lives,” said Dana J. Vouglitois J.D., CLP, associate director, Office of Technology Development.

Get in touch with the Office of Technology Development.