To find new drug-producing animals, algae, and microbes, the oceanographers aboard the Nautilus first have to study more concerning the animals that reside there. The expedition’s chief scientist, Lisa Levin, a professor of integrative oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, says the objective of the cruise is to perceive the habitat and how animals work together with the mineral-laden rocks. “Most of the places we are going, nobody has been to,” Levin says. “But we do know the whole region has corals and sponges, anemones, and other invertebrates.”
Levin is finding out the interplay between the animals and the rocky backside they name house. “We don’t know very much about whether there are animals that prefer to be on those substrates, or avoid them,” Levin says.
Levin will assist specifically skilled ROV pilots aboard the Nautilus hover the Hercules over the underside habitats to observe the ocean creatures utilizing a number of cameras, together with a excessive-definition video digicam that sends pictures by means of a fiber-optic cable to the ship and then by way of satellite tv for pc to scientists, college students, and the public by means of a round-the-clock livestreaming system. The pilots function the car’s highly effective robotic arms to seize samples of rocks as properly as to insert a coring system into seafloor sediments, the place Levin hopes to find even smaller animals. “The rocks are full of animals, but most people aren’t looking for these little tiny things,” she says. “In the sediment, we take a core and slice it up into vertical fractions.”
Once the samples are collected and introduced again to the floor, Paul Jensen will start the duty of figuring out animals and microbes that is perhaps good candidates for novel biopharmaceutical compounds. To do that, Jensen, a professor at the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine, which is operated by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, will scrape bacterial slime from rocks, take razor-skinny slices from sponges, and test for algae residing on corals. He’s hoping to find chemical toxins that shield these animals from getting eaten by predators, however may additionally be harnessed to assist people battle most cancers or infectious illnesses.
“There are lots of sponges and soft corals that often have microbes with symbiotic associations with them,” says Jensen. “That often includes a chemical component they may produce that defends it from predation. Now we have deep sea communities that nobody has looked at.”
Jensen has been searching for ocean treasures since he was a graduate pupil. In truth, a compound he and colleagues at Scripps found in sediments off the Bahamas again in 1990 is now present process Phase III medical trials as a remedy for a kind of mind most cancers known as glioblastoma. Back then, Jensen had to tradition and develop the compound in a lab and see if it had any helpful properties. Now researchers can skip the culturing step, acquire DNA from the animal or microbe, and assess its potential to produce fascinating molecules—wanting for genetic sequences in the new creatures that they already know give rise to compounds that work towards illnesses. “If the compound is in the DNA from a sponge and looks promising,” Jensen says, “we don’t have to go out and collect kilos of the sponge to try to find the molecule. We can take the DNA and, using molecular approaches, we can clone that DNA in a microbe we can grow in the lab and make the molecule that way.”
These molecules are then examined towards bacterial or most cancers cell strains to see if they both kill them or cease them from rising. Additionally, by understanding the genes of the new organisms, researchers can decipher how the proteins are structured and then produce them synthetically.