Oceans: Medicine Chests of the Future?

As disease resistance to antibiotics and other drugs continues to build, even new methods of discovery such as combinatorial chemistry may not be able to meet the ever-increasing need for more efficient and more effective compounds. According to a core group of researchers, however, an untapped reservoir of powerful new medicines is in the oceans. In fact, so rich is life in the oceans that some seafaring scientists go so far as to say the greatest bounty in the medicine chest of the new millen

A. J. S. Rayl
Sep 26, 1999

As disease resistance to antibiotics and other drugs continues to build, even new methods of discovery such as combinatorial chemistry may not be able to meet the ever-increasing need for more efficient and more effective compounds. According to a core group of researchers, however, an untapped reservoir of powerful new medicines is in the oceans. In fact, so rich is life in the oceans that some seafaring scientists go so far as to say the greatest bounty in the medicine chest of the new millennium will be found there.1

In recent years a small community of biological and chemical oceanographers has discovered a significant number of novel metabolites with potent pharmacological properties in marine organisms. Although the pharmaceutical industry at large has been reluctant to catch the new wave, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and a few smaller drug and biotech companies have, and several robust new compounds derived...