Mérida (Mexico), July 24 (EFE). – Mexican Davorin Pech Puch, a marine biologist sponsored by universities in Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, Portugal and his home country, has discovered that the molecules of sea sponges are found on shores. The Yucatan Peninsula, off southeast Mexico, has potential drugs to combat diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Covid-19.
“My research focuses on drug discovery and discovery in various marine species and it turns out that the molecules can also help fight cancer cells and multi-resistant bacteria present in hospitals,” said the scientist, who is pursuing a postdoctoral degree in the study. are. The university refers to Efe as the Autonomous Region of Yucatán (UADY).
“The molecules we isolated from different types of sponges also have anti-inflammatory powers to treat Alzheimer’s and two others have antiviral potential to be able to fight COVID-19,” he said.
The 30-year-old expert recalled that Mexico is a country rich in biodiversity, “but the coasts of the Yucatan Peninsula have one peculiarity: Being surrounded by Gulf and Caribbean waters, the creatures develop skills and strategies to survive.” ,
“That’s what research is about: taking advantage of these adaptations of organisms and using them, in this case, to discover new drugs,” says the Maya-born biotech scientist.
Regarding sea sponges, which are the main source of his work, he explains that they are primitive aquatic organisms, “that have lived in marine environments for millions of years and are also found in freshwater environments.”
“These non-tissue animals are composed of clusters of cells and inhabit various depths from zero to thousands of metres,” he says.
The researcher regretted that there is no catalog to quantify the species of sponges. “During my research along the coasts of Yucatán, Quintana Roo and Belize, I worked with 65.”
Peach Puch considered it necessary to prepare a catalog to know and measure the sponges, “with this we can devise strategies to preserve them and study them more” and said that he would benefit from the molecules produced by the sponges of the field for them. pick up. own existence and adaptation.”
“Sometimes they use their molecules to feed themselves, to defend themselves against predators, to compete with each other, and to keep their place in the marine ecosystem that is involved in the production of drugs. rich,” he said.
There are currently nine natural products of marine origin on the market that have been used directly in medicine, including one that was isolated from a conid or mollusk and is believed to be 20 or 50 times more potent than morphine.
Another example is the firm Pharmamar in Spain, which is in phase III of a drug that would work to treat COVID-19.
Pech Puch’s line of chemical research on marine products allows an approach from a taxonomic point of view, that is, each species has its own molecules and benefits.
In the Yucatán, groups of mollusks, conids, and seaweeds are studied, but sponges are little discovered, “that’s why I found them in the Caribbean and beaches near the Gulf of Mexico, Arrecife Alacrans, Cozumel and Belize.” Decided to investigate.”
Once the sponges are collected, a chemical process is followed to obtain the natural products that occur inside the cells of marine species.
“By mixing solvents we manage to break down the cells and extract the compounds of interest and continue the isolation process using chromatological tools which are basically isolation strategies to separate each molecule.”
In collaboration with the Biomedical Research Institute and the Center for Scientific Research, the University of La Corua and the Medina Foundation of Spain, a pioneer in drug discovery from natural products, scientists from Tixcocob, Yucatán, said they would soon establish the relationship between Alzheimer’s and COVID-19. Will announce the results of the new phase of research.
The National Council for Science and Technology (CONSAT) and the universities of Seville, Germany, the United Kingdom and Portugal also participate in the project, “each member of the team makes a perfect gear for unraveling the molecular structure of sponges.”
Pech Puch told Efe that the results of the work are optimal and powerful.
“Out of 40 molecules, 10 recorded antibacterial activity against four multi-resistant bacteria, four against adenovirus, five active against five types of cancer and two potent drugs against coronavirus”.
He recalled that he is currently in the stage of synthesizing a marine natural product molecule and the next step is to evaluate the drug’s activity against the virus. EFE
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