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Sponges can yield a treasure trove of biosynthetic compounds

By Sharon Kingman
Staff Writer

Thursday, January 30, 2014
LONDON – Researchers have for the first time identified some of the bacteria that live within marine sponges, and which have novel ways of synthesising metabolites that could one day provide new antibiotics or drugs to treat cancer. The bacteria, which cannot be cultured in the laboratory, do not belong to any existing phylum. Studies have shown that it is possible to extract the bacterial genes of interest, suggesting that these have the potential to be expressed in other microbial or cellular hosts, in order to manufacture new compounds.

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