BLUE BUGS FOR RED BIOTECHNOLOGYYOGESWARAN JAGADEESAN AND ANANDARAJ BALAIAH
The natural products play a major role from ancient civilizations to the current 21st century and more than half the drugs in the market are natural products or derivatives of them. Marine natural products have attracted the attention of biologists and chemists the world over for the last five decades. The notion that the oceans are home to huge microbial populations and diversity is indisputable, and recent research has confirmed the existence of bona fide marine bacterial therapeutic agents. This latter point is pivotal for targeting these bacteria for marine natural product discovery programmes. Moreover, if at best only one part in 1012 of the terrestrial surface of the earth has been screened for bacteria, imagine the potential rewards of the treasure house represented by the oceans! As the pace of research and development in marine microbiology quickens, increasing numbers of novel bacterial therapeutic agents are being described, several of which are currently in clinical trials. A simplistic analysis of these data reveals that as the search for Drugs from the Sea progresses at the rate of a 10 percent increase in new compounds per year. We opine, therefore, that investment in marine therapeutic products is entirely warranted, and the remainder of this review is devoted to reviewing what is known of marine bacteria and suggesting ways and means for realizing their biodiscovery potential.
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