Queensland reef earning biodiscovery profits



Commercial use of Queensland\’s unique biodiversity is earning research dividends through a landmark agreement ensuring Queenslanders benefit from the State\’s natural assets.

A research project, based at Griffith University, is aiming to develop much-needed antibiotics in partnership with Swedish company Creative Antibiotics.

Griffith\’s Eskitis Institute Director Professor Ron Quinn said a Queensland marine organism from the Great Barrier Reef showed promise in blocking bacteria causing deadly infections.

\”We screened Nature Bank, our unique collection of over 200,000 natural products derived from more than 45,000 plants and marine invertebrates found across Queensland, Tasmania, Papua New Guinea and China to identify a number of bioactive compounds,\” Professor Quinn said.

\”We found a previously unidentified marine organism species that holds potential as anti-bacterial medicine.\”

The Nature Bank screening successfully completes the first milestone of the project and a portion of the Eskitis Institute\’s milestone payment will be paid to the Queensland Government, through the Queensland Museum, who worked together with the University researchers to develop Nature Bank.

Head of the Queensland Museum\’s Biodiversity and Geosciences Program, Dr John Hooper, said while collecting for Nature Bank, the Museum had expanded the State\’s biodiversity knowledge by discovering thousands of new species of marine invertebrates.

\”This research project helped to find many new species, map their distribution in reefs and on seabed, and determine their ecological importance to the reef,\” Dr Hooper said.

CEO at Creative Antibiotics Dr Ulf Boberg said his team was enthusiastic about these promising early results.

This project fits very well with the increasing interest from the pharmaceutical industry to find potential novel antibiotics from natural products

\”Our aim was to find virulence blockers, chemical substances that block bacteria from causing diseases.

\”Virulence blockers leave bacteria otherwise intact. They disarm rather than destroy, which reduces the risk of bacteria developing resistance to medicines.\”

Queensland Chief Scientist, Professor Peter Andrews, said this milestone was an exciting development for the State\’s biotechnology industry.

\”Queensland\’s rich biodiversity and world class biotechnology capabilities uniquely position the State in the emerging biodiscovery industry,\” Professor Andrews said.

\”We have invested significantly to boost our biotechnology infrastructure and capabilities, and we are now beginning to see real environmental and biodiversity benefits as well as solid commercial returns.\”