The research work in MAREX is divided into eight strongly interwoven work packages. WP1 is responsible for sourcing and bioprospecting marine organisms from the pool of vast biodiversity of European, Asian and South American marine ecosystems, the collection and/or subsequent cultivation as well as crude extraction of selected marine organisms. Also, WP1 takes care of organizing and inventorizing the institutional, local, national and commercially available collections as well as culture collections available to the MAREX consortium. All the research will be conducted in full compliance with the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and in close and equal co-operation with the local research community and authorities in the region of collection of marine organisms.
Crude extracts produced in WP1 will be processed further in WP2 by using solvent extraction and chromatographic fractionation techniques guided by the assays available in WP3. The chromatographic isolation of bioactive compounds is followed by determination of their chemical purity, and the structural determination with various advanced state-of-the-art spectroscopic techniques and X-ray crystallography. Extracts, fractions and pure isolated compounds will be studied for their biological and pharmacological activity in WP3.
WP3 focuses on the screening
consortium samples for therapeutically and industrially significant biological
activities, such as anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anticoagulant
and antiaggregatory activities, as well as effects on ion channels and
receptors, biofilm formation, mitochondrial function, inhibition of bacterial
adherence, protein phosphatase inhibition, plant growth regulating activity,
and effects of marine compounds on invertebrates. Finally, preliminary safety
evaluation of the marine bioactive compounds and their derivatives obtained
from WP2, WP4 and WP5 is carried
In WP4 sustainable
biotechnological production protocols for selected marine bioactive compounds
(based on the results of WP3) will
be developed by using various fermentation techniques. Furthermore, biosensors
will be developed to monitor the production of bioactive compounds in
bioreactors, and feeding experiments of dinoflagellates to study bioactive
pathways will be carried out.
In WP5 of
consortium, the work is focused on organic synthesis of the
selected promising compounds in amounts needed for further work. Synthesis of
new derivatives, analogs, and mimetics of selected bioactive marine compounds
and synthetic modification of selected marine compounds will be performed for
the evaluation of various industrial applications in WP7. MAREX's medicinal chemistry programme aims at optimizing the
most attractive bioactive compounds to the stage of lead compounds.
WP6 takes care
of the overall sample logistics and data management of the MAREX consortium, and is
responsible for creation and updating of key databases, such as extract,
compound, and bioactivity databases. WP6
also organises standard operating procedures for sample transfers, because a
great number of different extracts and isolated compounds originating from
several marine organisms will be produced, and needs to be transferred
efficiently between the Consortium members. Regarding quality aspects of the
project, the standardisation of data formats and management will be done in the
beginning of the MAREX project.
In WP7 the feasibility of the new marine
bioactive compounds, innovative approaches, and the most potential industrial
products and process solutions are subjected to cost-benefit analysis to
evaluate the overall feasibility, compared with the present industrial
exploitation of marine organisms and use of the bioactive marine compounds. Key
application areas are pharmaceuticals,
nutraceuticals, cosmetics, agrochemicals, biosensors, and other
speciality chemicals. The following
operations will be evaluated (i) fractionation of promising crude extracts,
(ii) primary separation, isolation, and purification of marine bioactive
compounds, and (iii) key modifications needed to make added-value derivatives
of marine bioactive compounds. Handling of intellectual property rights and
benefit sharing issues are dealt with in this work package. WP7 takes also care of training and
dissemination activities of the MAREX project.
The last work-package (WP8) co-ordinates all the scientific and technological work in the MAREX consortium, and focuses on efficient management.