New antibiotic compound discovered at sea

A team led by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) at UC San Diego has discovered a new chemical compound from an ocean microbe shown to be effective against deadly anthrax and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

The microbe is a Streptomyces – a genus of bacteria that produces over two-thirds of the clinically useful antibiotics of natural origin. The new microorganism was collected by researchers from sediments located off shore from Santa Barbara last year.

SIO’s Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine, working in conjunction with San Diego-based Trius Therapeutics, deciphered the unusual structure of a molecule from the microbe.  Initial testing of the compound, named anthracimycin, revealed its potency against anthrax as well as MRSA.

Discovery of truly new antibiotic compounds is rare. This discovery adds to previous discoveries showing marine bacteria to be genetically and chemically unique.  This adds incentive to continue exploring the oceans for new materials that could one day be used to treat a variety of diseases and illnesses.

—Findings reported in the international edition of the German journal Angewandte Chemie. News release at

Android owners can assist AIDS research

For several years, The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and IBM have been working together in an effort to help battle AIDS through FightAIDS@Home – a TSRI project that seeks to identify new candidate drugs to prevent HIV from maturing.  FightAIDS@Home is deployed on the IBM-sponsored World Community Grid ( – a “virtual supercomputer” made possible by a global community of Internet users who donate unused time on their personal computers to tackle projects that benefit humanity.

Massive computational power is essential for the success of the TSRI project. Now, Android-based smartphone and tablet owners can join in this effort via a new app for BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing) – the open-access software platform for distributed computing using volunteer resources.

BOINC harnesses the unused computing power of volunteer Android devices only when a device is plugged in and charged, so it won’t drain the battery. Data is transferred over WiFi, so it won’t use up a cell phone plan data limit.

In addition to FightAIDS@Home, users can choose to donate unused computational time to other scientific research projects that study diseases, predict global warming, develop clean energy solutions, or discover new stars in the universe.

—More information and FAQ on FightAIDS@Home at Free BOINC app download available at

Accelerating commercialization of research reagents

The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and St. Louis-based Sigma-Aldrich Corporation® (Nasdaq: SIAL) have announced a partnership to fund research and provide immediate, day-of-publication access to TSRI researchers’ discoveries for the synthesis and analysis of potential drugs.

TSRI approached Sigma-Aldrich to eliminate the delay between the invention of novel reagents and reliable, widespread access to those reagents for the translational research community.

Sigma-Aldrich and TSRI will partner to fund development of novel reagents from six TSRI labs, which Sigma-Aldrich will commercialize exclusively via a master licensing agreement. This will allow unfettered access to new reagents by chemists and also scientists who do not have a background in chemical synthesis, which in the past limited their ability to implement novel reagents in their research.

While a number of collaborative partnerships have emerged between academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies, this is the first partnership of its kind between a research institute and a reagents company.

—News release at

Lynne Friedmann is a science writer based in Solana Beach.

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Posted by Staff on Jul 23, 2013. Filed under Columns, Editorial Columns, Research Report. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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