Searching for Cures
Specimens from the Antarctic’s diverse marine community provide a rich resource for early-stage drug discovery at the USF Center for Drug Discovery and Innovation.
By Ann Carney and Katy Hennig
In April, Bill Baker traveled to the end of the earth. It wasn’t his first visit to the icy Antarctic; he’s been making the annual trek for 20 years.
Baker is on a mission to bring back specimens — sponges, tunicates, sea anemones, corals and other marine invertebrates — that could hold the keys to treatments for cancer, malaria, Alzheimer’s and other diseases.
The specimens will become part of the natural products library in the chemodiversity laboratory at USF’s Center for Drug Discovery and Innovation (CDDI). There, a team of scientists will screen the samples against known targets for disease.
A reaction could mean the first step in the development of a life-saving drug.