Defending Ocean Areas With Robotics


With the ever-aging world inhabitants and the rising burden of continual sickness, there may be an elevated reliance on the healthcare system (significantly the biopharmaceutical {industry}) so as or one to realize and maintain a top quality of life. In response to the World Well being Group (WHO), the burden of human illnesses have been quickly rising for many years with this development predominantly contributed by inhabitants development and environmental degradation.


Marine bioprospecting is the seek for novel compounds from pure sources within the marine atmosphere. These actions have elevated a fantastic deal in the previous couple of years probably partially as a result of continued technological advances enabling additional oceanic exploration, acknowledgement of the wealthy generic variety within the marine biome, in addition to the strain from {industry} to provide given varied blockbuster medicine going off patent. At present, about 18,000 pure merchandise have been reported from marine organisms belonging to about 4,800 named species. The variety of pure merchandise from marine species is rising at a price of 4% per 12 months. The rise within the price of discoveries is basically the results of technological advances in exploring the ocean and the genetic variety it comprises. Advances in applied sciences for observing and sampling the deep ocean, corresponding to submersibles and remotely operated autos (ROVs), have opened up beforehand unexplored areas to scientific analysis. Since 1999, the variety of patents of genetic materials from marine species has elevated on the price of 12% per 12 months. Marine species are about twice as prone to yield at the very least one gene in a patent than their terrestrial counterparts. Bioprospecting sometimes requires the gathering of a really restricted quantity of biomass for the preliminary discovery. Though additional collections could also be required after a promising discovery has been made, bioprospecting usually doesn’t contain threats to biodiversity similar to the massive biomass removals concerned in harvesting sources for meals or mineral exploitation.


Biopharmaceuticals are probably the most spectacular achievements of recent science. Many biopharmaceuticals provide excessive efficacy and few negative effects. And there may be rather more to return: radically new ideas are making it to the market, and the advances preserve coming at a speedy tempo. The success of pure compounds in drug discovery is unparalleled: for antimicrobial and anticancer therapies, for instance, greater than 70% of recent chemical entities launched throughout the interval 1981-2002 originated from pure merchandise. It has been estimated by the US Nationwide Most cancers Institute (NCI) that 1% of samples from marine animals examined within the laboratory reveal anti-tumor potential (which compares favorably with simply 0.01% of samples of terrestrial origin). In the previous couple of many years, advances in informatics, automation and imaging know-how have made it doable to display 100,000s – 1,000,000s of small molecules towards a particular organic goal or mobile assay per day, in contrast with 10s-100s of compounds examined on animals over many months beforehand. Rising consciousness of the restrictions of traditionally invaluable approaches, and breakthroughs in robotics applied sciences, corresponding to these utilized in separation and construction dedication, have made screening mixtures of structurally complicated pure product molecules simpler, and have expanded the potential function of pure chemical variety within the drug discovery course of



Australia is considered one of solely 17 mega-diverse international locations on the planet and is famend for the distinctiveness of its biota. Australia has a number of options proving engaging to traders and researchers within the pure merchandise space. This consists of, not least, entry to a various and distinctive biota. Extra usually, the options of Australia conducive to analysis and industrial exercise embody its strong system of legislation and steady democratic system of presidency, its steady and resilient economic system, clear and environment friendly regulatory atmosphere, complete mental property protections and excessive scientific and technological capability. Australia has remained comparatively remoted over time in comparison with most international locations. Consequently, Australia has a excessive proportion of endemic species – that’s, species not occurring naturally elsewhere. For instance, within the case of mammals, roughly 83% are endemic to Australia. Australia’s distinctive marine atmosphere comprises the world’s largest areas and highest variety of tropical and temperate seagrass species and of mangrove species; a few of the largest areas of coral reefs; distinctive ranges of biodiversity for a variety of marine invertebrates; and it’s estimated that round 80% of the southern marine species happen nowhere else on the planet. With solely 0.3% of the world’s inhabitants, Australia contributes 2.5% of the world’s medical analysis and a couple of.9% of worldwide scientific publications (Make investments Australia, 2007, p.6). In 2005, Australia ranked eighth within the OECD by way of the proportion of researchers within the complete labor power. That is above the OECD common. On a per capita foundation, Australia has a analysis output twice the OECD common. When it comes to biotechnology analysis, Australia has a number of devoted biotechnology analysis institutes. Australia’s biotechnology {industry} is steadily rising, with exercise throughout biotechnology fields together with biomedicine, agricultural biotechnology, industrial biotechnology and environmental biotechnology. The Australian Authorities is a staunch advocate of the home pharmaceutical {industry} and has been very supportive in implementing initiatives to develop this sector. By any measure, Australian Authorities help for analysis and growth within the biopharmaceutical {industry} has been and appears to proceed to be robust.


At present, biopharmaceuticals generate world revenues of $163 billion, making up about 20 p.c of the pharma market. It is by far the fastest-growing a part of the {industry}: biopharma’s present annual development price of greater than 8 p.c is double that of standard pharma, and development is anticipated to proceed at that price for the foreseeable future. Marine bioprospecting has the potential to additional drive these developments. The marine biome stays untapped and underneath investigated, and thus, completely poised to drive each topline and backside line for a number of stakeholders within the biopharma worth chain. Investing in biotech R&D has yielded higher returns than the pharma-industry common. The present biologics-development pipeline helps an outlook of continued wholesome development. The variety of biotech patents utilized for yearly has been rising at 25 p.c yearly since 1995. There are presently greater than 1,500 biomolecules present process scientific trials, and the success price for biologics has to date been over twice that of small-molecule merchandise, with 13 p.c of biopharma merchandise that enter the Part I trial stage occurring to launch. Thus far, sampling of marine merchandise has primarily occurred in easy-to-reach coastal waters. In consequence, 97% of pure merchandise of marine origin are from eukaryotic sources (organisms with complicated cells), with sponges alone accounting for 38% of the merchandise. Nevertheless, the vast majority of the Earth’s metabolic variety resides in prokaryotic organisms (single-celled organisms corresponding to micro organism) and over 99% of the microbial neighborhood of the ocean stays to be explored, so it stands to cause that many extra genetic sequences invaluable for merchandise are but to be found. There’s a specific curiosity in marine species that dwell in excessive environments, corresponding to hydrothermal vents and seamounts (‘extremophiles’). By the tip of 2007, solely 10 compounds had been reported from Deep Ocean and ocean trench environments, with an additional seven recognized in 2010. Fewer than 10 marine pure merchandise have to date been reported from sizzling vent micro organism. Moreover, if we break down the assorted ecosystems of our seas and oceans and evaluate the chemical dynamics, coral reefs have significantly spectacular potential. The corals that we see are literally made up of colonies that construct up and thrive in an atmosphere the place vitamins are low. Though coral reefs solely occupy 0.1% of the world’s ocean floor, they’re probably the most numerous ecosystems on earth, internet hosting ~25% of all marine species. The concentrate on the coral reef ecosystem as a goal place for medicinal functions shouldn’t be a brand new idea. As early because the 14th century, coral reefs have been a recognized supply for medicines. One apply at the moment is the usage of fish gall bladder to deal with venomous stings from marine organisms. At present, coral reefs have already contributed its title within the pharmaceutical {industry} as one of many supply of biochemical compounds for brand spanking new medicine and the probabilities are infinite. The chance transferring ahead is substantial.


2.3.1 Aplidin

One of many early biochemical compounds derived from the ocean is Didemnin, a compound remoted for the therapy of sure cancers. This compound was obtained from the tunicate Trididemnum solidum. Sadly, Didemin didn’t survive in later levels of its scientific trials. Nevertheless, after a collection of additional exploration, a relative of the previous species was found to poses comparable traits. The tunicate Aplidium albicans possesses the compound Aplidin® which has an analogous construction with Didemnin however far much less poisonous. Aplidin is an anti-tumor, anti-viral and immunosuppressive drug that has been demonstrated to be efficient in pancreatic, abdomen, bladder and prostate cancers. After present process collection of scientific take a look at, Aplidin was granted the classification as an orphan drug that particularly treats a number of myeloma and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. In america alone, there are over 45,000 folks with a number of myeloma and an estimated 15,000 new instances within the U.S. every year.

2.3.2 Yondelis

Yondelis® was developed by the PharmaMar Pharmaceutical Firm and was launched out there in 2003. This compound is now offered by Zeltia and Johnson and Johnson. Yondelis comprises the lively substance Trabectedin. Trabectedin is derived from coral reefs. Particularly from the filter feeding sacs of the small and motionless plant-like invertebrate referred to as sea squirts. Extracts of this reef related species has been discovered to include a therapy for soft-tissue sarcoma and ovarian neoplasm sarcoma. Yondelis was developed on account of the Nationwide Most cancers Institute Screening Program for marine vegetation and animals. Sea quirts have been collected from reefs of West Indies and studied within the laboratory on the College of Illinois. The anti-cancer biosynthetic compound was then found to be embedded within the symbiotic microorganism throughout the sea squirts. Yondelis is produced in a semi-synthetic method, after the extracts from the ocean squirts bear a patented chemical course of. This course of is much less intrusive and fewer demanding to the pure marine biome. Furthermore, although the utilization of Yondelis is just for uncommon medical circumstances corresponding to sarcoma, there may be nonetheless potential for this product so as to add a whole lot of worth to the lives of sufferers and different stakeholders. Increasingly more adopting Yondelis of their prescribing workflow for sarcomas and there are an rising variety of sufferers who’re delicate to medicines containing platinum and Yondelis is without doubt one of the solely different anti-cancer medicines.

2.3.3 Professional Osteon

There are various indications for a bone graft implant (e.g. fusion of the backbone, joints in legs and arms, fractures or gaps in bones attributable to trauma or an infection, oral surgical procedure). In a typical bone grafting process, an artificial materials is formed by the surgeon to suit the affected space of the bone whereas pins or screws are used to carry it in place. This materials builds a help construction the place bone cells can interlace, regenerate and heal. Professional Osteon Implant 500 has a porous microstructure the place new tissues and blood cells can develop, thereby stimulating development and connects fractured bone segments. Generically referred to as “Bone Void Filler” and authorized by the FDA in 1992, Professional Osteon Implant 500 is clinically confirmed to be secure, robust and value efficient. This materials is sterile, thereby minimizing opposed reactions from the affected person’s immune system rejecting the implant. The effectiveness of Professional Osteon Implant 500 lies in its supply. It makes use of corals from the ocean that has the identical porous interconnected construction of a typical bone graft thereby mimicking the inner construction of a human bone. After present process a patented chemical course of, it converts the coral into hydroxyapatite which is a mineral and the chief structural component of a human bone. At this stage, the implant materials is now additionally osteoconductive which facilitates bone cells to weave into the porous construction. After the process and the therapeutic course of begins, the Professional Osteon Implant will finally be coated and changed by bones creating the mended half as robust because it was earlier than. Professional Osteon has nice demonstrated efficacy and a secure side-effect profile. The corporate manufacturing this product is projecting at the very least $3 billion in gross sales by 2017. What’s extra, the manufacturing of Professional Osteon shouldn’t be fully depending on farming and extracting corals from their pure habitat. Particular strategies have been developed, which require solely a small portion of coral to be extracted, whereas the steadiness is grown artificially within the lab-thus selling sustainability and stability of the marine biome.



Although marine bioprospecting is comparatively unimposing and the apply doesn’t impose the sustainability danger of varied terrestrial strategies, conservationists and the general public nonetheless have some considerations. For one, little or no is understood in regards to the conservation standing of many species used as sources of marine genetic sources. Additional, many species happen in weak and fragile ecosystems. Many are additionally involved with what we do not know on this comparatively nascent sub-industry at this level. As an illustration, the impact on ecosystems of removing of marine genetic sources is poorly understood.


Funding in marine biotechnology shouldn’t be with out danger. Sampling at sea prices a minimal of US$ 30,000 per day or US$ 1 million for a month. It sometimes takes 15 years total, and an funding of as much as US$ 1billion, to go from analysis to industrial product, as a consequence of the truth that many merchandise fail to ship on early guarantees. In consequence the sector is dominated by comparatively few nations. Patent claims related to marine genetic sources (MGR) originate from solely 31 international locations. Ninety per cent of those patents originate from 10 international locations (USA, Germany, Japan, France, UK, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland and Norway), with 70% originating from the US, Germany and Japan. Regardless of the excessive ranges of funding required in R&D, biotechnology is a profitable and necessary {industry}.


The potential of marine bioprospecting has change into the topic of worldwide coverage debate (significantly for areas past nationwide jurisdiction). One central query is whether or not the potential advantages from marine bioprospecting must be shared by the whole worldwide neighborhood or solely by the States or particular person firms with the capability to use them. Varied teams are taking a look at this in an effort to configure essentially the most wise set of insurance policies to steadiness the necessity to promote innovation and technological/biopharmaceutical advances, with the necessity to ensure all stakeholders within the worth chain are appropriately compensated, together with the necessity to make sure the longevity of those pure marine habitats. More and more, particular person nation-states are establishing insurance policies that dictate the way in which wherein protected marine habitats of their jurisdiction could also be used for bioprospecting and different scientific and industrial pursuits.


There are operational and technological challenges to bioprospecting and biopharmaceutical discovery generally. Reproducing giant molecules reliably at an industrial scale requires manufacturing capabilities of a beforehand unknown sophistication. Take into account this: a molecule of aspirin consists of 21 atoms. A biopharmaceutical molecule may include something from 2,000 to 25,000 atoms (Exhibit 1). The “machines” that produce recombinant therapeutics are genetically modified dwelling cells that should be frozen for storage, thawed with out harm, and made to thrive within the uncommon atmosphere of a response vessel. The mandatory sophistication comes at nice price. Giant-scale biotech-manufacturing amenities require $200 million to $500 million or extra to construct, in contrast with similar-scale small-molecule amenities which will price simply $30 million to $100 million, and so they can take 4 to 5 years to construct. Because the variety of merchandise rises and new course of applied sciences corresponding to steady manufacturing are launched, the complexity of biopharma operations and the biopharma provide chain will improve.



First, actions at sea in help of biotechnology have to be distinguished from processes within the laboratory. Industrial expeditions purely to gather marine genetic sources are uncommon to non-existent. Usually, sampling is performed on scientific analysis cruises, or by utilizing downtime on ROVs used within the offshore oil {industry}. Ocean-going analysis vessels are sometimes owned by nationwide analysis our bodies (e.g. China, UK, US, Brazil, Germany, Japan, France, Russia) or industrial operations, significantly within the offshore oil and gasoline sector. With the advances in ROVs, much less and fewer direct human disruption of the marine biome is critical. Leveraging ROV know-how permits for minimally invasive techniques that also permits for efficient analysis/discovery/growth alternatives whereas sustaining the steadiness in essentially the most fragile of habitats. Investing and using ROV know-how can be safer for all events concerned. Because the scientific neighborhood continues to analysis extra harmful and less-explored marine habitats, the danger for well being and human security improve. ROVs dramatically reduces this danger whereas allowing analysis and industrial societies to discover true frontier areas. For instance, Liquid Robotics is a venture-backed agency specializing on this space with their marquee product, the Wave Glider. The Wave Glider is an autonomous, environmentally powered ocean-going platform for gathering and remotely transmitting details about the ocean. Wave Gliders acquire knowledge on temperature, winds, humidity, wind gusts, water temperature, water shade, and water composition. They will additionally take footage. These robots are gathering a whole lot of observational knowledge about local weather change, ocean acidification, fisheries administration, hurricane and tsunami warnings, and exploration – however in a inexperienced method. Any such know-how utilized particularly to marine bioprospecting to additional drive innovation and effectivity on this area.


The Griffith College (an Australian College primarily based within the State of Queensland)/AstraZeneca Partnership represents a multi-year, 100 AUD funding by AstraZeneca, has concerned the screening of extracts of natural world by Griffith College’s Eskitis Institute to establish bioactive molecules as potential leads for pharmaceutical discovery and growth of novel prescribed drugs. Greater than 45,000 samples of regional biota, each marine and terrestrial, have been collected because the begin of the partnership. Collections have derived from a number of jurisdictions inside Australia. This partnership also needs to function a grounded instance to assist inform future initiatives aimed toward balancing the assorted wants to make sure efficient and secure marine bioprospecting. This partnership demonstrated that bioprospecting partnerships can yield constant advantages for supplier international locations and for biodiversity conservation over time. The collaborative settlement and consequent funding in Queensland has resulted in important know-how switch. As a part of the partnership, AstraZeneca offers funding to Griffith College to take part of their bio discovery and commercialization efforts. Griffith College in flip companions with home and abroad amassing establishments to undertake biota collections, make extracts of samples, after which run these samples by way of excessive throughput screens (HTS) towards targets offered by and of therapeutics curiosity to AZ. Lively compounds are then recognized and remoted at Griffith College by way of bioassay guided fractionation, and constructions are elucidated utilizing nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Advantages accrued to the vary of collaborators within the partnership – Astra Zeneca, Griffith College, the Queensland Herbarium, the Queensland Museum, and corporations and establishments in China, India, Papua New Guinea, and Tasmania. On the similar time, broader advantages have been achieved or should still emerge for the State of Queensland, the Australian analysis neighborhood, the Australian public, and the worldwide neighborhood. Realized advantages to Australia embody financial remuneration like charges for samples (or to cowl the prices of an agreed-upon work plan) and royalties. Non-monetary advantages to Australia included the availability of autos, gear, know-how, coaching, constructing of a state-of-the-art pure product discovery unit, and elevated data of biodiversity. Advantages to AZ embody the entry to an enormous pipeline of potential blockbuster medicine which will but serve to learn hundreds (if not tens of millions) of sufferers. Moreover, new info and knowledge gleaned from the partnerships have gone in direction of informing extra coverage round conservation and environmental planning and administration all through the area. Many greatest practices for comparable future partnerships might be established from the AZ/Griffith Partnership.

Finish Notice:

Science has a possibility now not like every other time in historical past to advance mankind using robotics for the betterment of us all.

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