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Scientists in search for new anti cancer drugs from marine fungi


A total of eleven institutions have joined forces, and set up an EU project “Marine Fungi” in order to evaluate the therapeutic potential of marine fungi as anti-cancer drugs. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland will primarily be involved in the development of robust, sustainable production conditions in the project.


Marine organisms are an important resource of natural products, used for example in cosmetics and agriculture, but also as therapeutics for the treatment of human diseases. Marine fungi, a group of organisms which have so far remained unexploited, are the focus resource in the new “Marine Fungi” project.

The aim of the project is to evaluate the therapeutic potential of natural products of known strains and new isolates of unique habitats in particular fungi inhabiting tropical coral reefs, macroalgae of the Pacific Ocean and Mediterranean sponges as anti-cancer agents.

The project also strives for development of a sustainable, large-scale production of these natural marine products in a laboratory thus avoiding harm to the natural environment through harvesting. The project also aims to see some marine natural products progress to an in vivo proof of concept stage.

The project started in May 2011 and lasts for 3 years. Total project budget: 3 Million euros.

Project partners: Leibniz institute für Meeresvissenschaften and der Universität Kiel (IFM-GEOMAR, coordinating the project) Hypha Discovery Limited (UK), Aarhus University (Denmark), Christian Albrects University in Kiel (Germany), Danish Technological Institute, University of Diponegoro (Indonesia) University of Antofagasta (Chile), European Screeningport Gmbh (Germany), Probiodrug Ag. (Germany) and University of Oslo (Norway).