Science

Sea sponge may help in the fight against TB

Sea sponge may help in the fig...
Researcher Petar Souter gathers samples off the coast of Queensland
Researcher Petar Souter gathers samples off the coast of Queensland
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Dr. Diana Quan, working in the lab of Prof. Jamie Triccas
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Dr. Diana Quan, working in the lab of Prof. Jamie Triccas
Researcher Petar Souter gathers samples off the coast of Queensland
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Researcher Petar Souter gathers samples off the coast of Queensland

Tuberculosis is a difficult disease to treat, particularly as new strains of TB-causing bacteria become resistant to previously-effective antibiotics. Now, however, it appears that help may be coming from an unexpected source – a sea sponge.

Led by Dr. Diana Quan, scientists from the Centenary Institute at Australia's University of Sydney started by collecting approximately 1,500 sponge samples off the coast of Queensland. When these were subsequently analyzed, it was found that one sponge from the Tedaniidae family produced an already-known compound called bengamide B.

When tested in the lab, not only did the bengamide B display a "strong inhibitory potency" against the most common forms of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria that causes TB, but it was also effective against antibiotic-resistant strains of the microbe. Additionally, the compound was shown to be non-toxic when tested on human cells.

Dr. Diana Quan, working in the lab of Prof. Jamie Triccas
Dr. Diana Quan, working in the lab of Prof. Jamie Triccas

"There is an urgent need for new drugs and antibiotics which can shorten and simplify TB treatment in order to combat this burgeoning TB pandemic," says Quan. "Bengamide B shows significant potential as a new class of compound for the treatment of tuberculosis and also importantly, for the treatment of drug-resistant TB which is an ever-increasing obstacle to TB eradication around the world."

"In the search for new TB drugs, the marine environment offers a promising and largely untapped source of potential targets due to its amazingly potent biodiversity."

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Source: Centenary Institute

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