Some sponges have potential pharmacological applications. (Photo: centros3.pntic.mec.es)
Antitumor properties discovered in sea sponges
Tuesday, February 21, 2012, 16:40 (GMT + 9)
Researchers in the laboratories of the National Association of Canned Fish and Shellfish (ANFACO-CECOPESCA) detected antitumor and antibacterial properties in marine sponges of the Galician coast.
Scientists explain that marine invertebrates such as sponges are an important source of chemical compounds with potential pharmacological applications.
But they note that although they have studied the properties of many species of sponges from tropical and temperate waters, little is known about cold-water species.
It is for this reason that the project "Sponges exploitation and viability of its culture crop for the production of bioactive substances", developed by ANFACO-CECOPESCA with financial support from the Xunta de Galicia, is dedicated to the search for antibacterial and antitumor substances in sponges on the Galician coast.
According to ANFACO, the results obtained so far indicate that some species produce substances at concentrations between 10 and 100 µg/ml, which can inhibit tumour cell growth in in-vitro culture, while extracts from other species inhibit the growth of some pathogenic bacteria such as Listeria and Vibrio.
Scientists are now working on the purification of these extracts, in order to isolate and identify the molecules responsible for the antibacterial and antitumor activity.
Another of the tasks included in this project is the sponge cell culture in fermenters. The idea is to obtain compounds of interest in the laboratory, without the need of collecting individuals in the natural environment, to prevent the exploitation of natural populations of sponges.