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European Commission Provides $9.6M for BlueGenics Project

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – An international project with funding from the European Commission has been launched to identify and use the genetic blueprints of marine organisms to produce biomedical substances.

Funded with €6 million ($9.6 million) from the EC, the project dubbed BlueGenics will be headed by Werner Müller, from the Institute of Physiological Chemistry of the Mainz University Medical Center, and NanotecMarin, a spinout of Mainz University. The researchers have developed a strategy that seeks to combine research on genes from marine organisms with biomedical relevance and bacteria "with the most advanced chemical synthesis and structure analysis methods."

The project will apply the approach to develop substances up to pre-clinical testing, Mainz University said, adding that the focus of the project will be on developing substances that can be used either as prophylactics for or therapies against osteoporosis, as well as new antimicrobial peptides and compounds with neuroprotective activity.

The approach will allow for the sustainable use of marine resources without negatively impacting biodiversity, the university said.

BlueGenics will be carried out by researchers in the fields of marine genomics, biosynthesis, and chemical structure analysis. Participants in the project come from 16 research institutions and industry organizations in Germany, France, Croatia, Portugal, Iceland, Italy, Sweden, UK, and China.

"We are practically just at the beginning to exploit marine resources, especially those from the little-explored deep sea, for biomedical purposes," Reinhard Urban, CSO of the Mainz University Medical Center, said in a statement. "However, it is now already foreseeable that research on deep sea organisms is likely to produce remarkable results for our society."