“Bacteria living inside a small marine animal may be the source of a new drug compound being developed to fight cancer.
The marine invertebrate Bugula neritina, a brown bryozoan animal with stringy tufts that look like algae, appears unremarkable and similar to a variety of moss-like sea creatures. In fact, bryozoans are widely known by boat operators, who consider them ordinary fouling organisms and often scrape them off their vessels’ hulls.
But researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California (UCSD)have produced evidence that the bacteria’s potential may be far from ordinary.
Scientists previously discovered Bugula neritina to be the source of bryostatins, a family of chemical compounds currently being studied for their ability to treat a variety of cancers. The anti-cancer drug Bryostatin 1 can be extracted from colonies of Bugula neritina.
The new study concludes however that it is bacteria living inside Bugula neritina, which are passed in larvae from one generation to the next, that is the likely source of the anti-cancer compound.
“”This paper presents a whole series of experiments from a variety of different directions that provide evidence that this bacteria may indeed be the agent for producing the drug