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Marine Fungi Found on Sea Sponges Show Promising Potential in Treating Drug-Resistant Infections
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Marine Fungi Found on Sea Sponges Show Promising Potential in Treating Drug-Resistant Infections

Seraiah Alexander
Seraiah Alexander
March 25, 2024
2 min

The ocean’s depths may contain the next breakthrough in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Scientists have discovered that certain marine fungi found on sea sponges have a unique chemical structure that allows them to battle tough bacterial infections and disrupt protective biofilms. With drug resistance infections on the rise, these findings offer a potential goldmine for groundbreaking medical treatments. 

Primary findings

The researchers of the study, published in the Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science, targeted sea sponges in their search for antibacterial agents due to their remarkable chemical diversity. Sea sponges are known for their specialized relationship with microorganisms that live in and around them, including fungi. These fungi interact with their host by producing a wide array of chemical compounds that serve various functions, such as competing with other microbes, deterring predators, and protecting the sponge from diseases (1). Because of these conditions, sea sponges and their associated fungi are often considered valuable sources of new bioactive compounds that could be used to develop antibiotics and other types of drugs.

Fungi were collected from different sea sponges and isolated to be grown in controlled laboratory conditions. Specific types of fungi like Aspergillus and Penicillium were particularly examined because they are known to produce a variety of beneficial bioactive compounds. After the growing process, their natural compounds were extracted and purified. These substances were then tested against various bacteria to see if they would inhibit the growth or disrupt biofilms, which are protective layers bacteria form to shield themselves from antibiotics. The study found that some of the compounds produced by the fungi were highly effective in killing bacteria and preventing them from forming biofilms. Several promising compounds were identified in the study, including anthraquinones, sterigmatocystin analogs, and hydroxy pyrrolidine alkaloids, which showed potential in the lab tests (2).

Future implications for drug development

The overuse and misuse of antibiotics have led to the rise of superbugs that do not respond to traditional treatment methods. According to a 2019 report from the United Nations, an estimated 10 million annual deaths could occur by 2050 if no solution is found for antibiotic-resistant infections. Currently, biofilm-related infections are one of the primary limitations of conventional antibiotics. More research is required to comprehend the reliable mechanisms of action behind these bioactive compounds, especially considering how complex the interaction between bacteria in biofilms is to treat. Nonetheless, the distinct properties of these compounds, especially their ability to penetrate and disrupt biofilms, can pave the way for new classes of antibiotics that operate differently from existing ones, potentially bypassing current resistance mechanisms. These new antibacterial and antibiofilm agents appear to have considerable value in drug development, offering hope for more effective treatments against resistant bacterial infections.

With continued research and development, the ocean may indeed hold the key to overcoming one of the most daunting challenges in modern medicine.

References

  1. Webster, Nicole S., and Michael W. Taylor. 2011. “Marine Sponges and Their Microbial Symbionts: Love and Other Relationships.” Environmental Microbiology 14 (2): 335–46. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1462-2920.2011.02460.x.
  2. Wigati, Dyan, Erna Prawita Setyowati, Sylvia Utami Tunjung Pratiwi, and Ari Satia Nugraha. 2024. “Promising Sponge-Derived Marine Fungi as Antibacterial and Biofilm Inhibitors.” Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science, March. https://doi.org/10.7324/JAPS.2024.161885.

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science
Seraiah Alexander

Seraiah Alexander

Content Editor

Table Of Contents

1
Primary findings
2
Future implications for drug development
3
References

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