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Scripps And Department Of Defense Search For New Antibiotics

Partnership to focus on marine sources to combat bioweapons.

Audio

Aired 9/22/10

The Department of Defense has awarded nearly $30 million to Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the local drug company Trius to find new antibiotic sources from the ocean.

The Department of Defense has awarded nearly $30 million to Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the local drug company Trius to find new antibiotic sources from the ocean.

There are about 120 antibiotic drugs available in America today. That’s no where near enough, said William Fenical, director of Scripps Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine.

“Almost every one of those are no longer effective and as a result we need to develop new sources, new potent antibiotics for the treatment of news diseases, the so called 'superbugs.'”

Drug resistant superbugs can affect everyone, and Fenical said if you include bio-weapons and new infections found in war zones we’ve got a microbe explosion waiting to happen.

"In the military and Afghanistan is the onset of infectious diseases from organisms that before were never visible. Now, we're seeing them and we don’t have a good arsenal of antibiotics to treat these organisms.”

The response to these new diseases from the Department of Defense is to focus on finding marine sources of microbes to make new antibiotics.

Scripps researchers are searching for new antibiotic sources from the ocean.
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Above: Scripps researchers are searching for new antibiotic sources from the ocean.

Fenical said a million microbes can be found in just 1/28 of an ounce of seawater.

“The sources of microbes are the water itself, the bottom of the ocean, or the so called sediment or soil equivalent of the ocean, and also plants and animals that have specialized microbes living with them,” said Fenical.

Trius is the San Diego drug company that has partnered with Scripps for the nearly five-year project. Once a microbe is identified for the development of an antibody, Trius will develop and test it, and eventually they hope to market it to the military and the public.

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