The over-arching goal of this work is to discover new lead compounds from Panamanian microorganisms for the treatment of cancer, CNS disorders, tropical diseases, and agricultural pests, employing a spectrum of innovative as well as traditional bioassays. This pursuit will be inextricably connected to the development of scientific training and capacity building in a biodiversity-rich yet economically-developing country, and will foster tangible results in biodiversity conservation and infrastructure development.
The specific aims of this proposal which will allow us to reach these goals are: 1) Use ecological concepts to guide the collection and culture of endophytic fungi, cyanobacteria and other heterotrophic bacteria within the biodiversity-rich country of Panama, 2) Produce extracts of these collected and cultured materials and prefractionate these by appropriate techniques to produce reduced complexity screening units which have active ingredients in increased titer, 3) Through efforts of personnel in AP2 plus our collaborators, to perform biological screens of extracts, prefractionated extracts, and pure compounds in the following therapeutic areas: Cancer, Central Nervous System biology, Agriculture, and Tropical diseases (malaria, leishmania and Chagas'disease), 4) Utilize an integrated approach of taxonomy, computer databases, and LC-MS data to rapidly and efficiently dereplicate known and nuisance compounds at early stages in the discovery process, 5) Isolate active compounds identified in the above assay areas using bioassay-guided approaches, and to characterize these substances using efficient and modern spectroscopic methods, 6) Inventory the biodiversity of terrestrial plants and marine algae in Panama, and to continue to build the permanent floral collections in Panama, 7) Evolve and maintain the formal contracts between all of the participants in this program to address intellectual property rights, promote equitable sharing of benefits, and to facilitate broad access to the data and results of these research endeavors, 8) Help build the scientific infrastructure and expertise necessary to support a sustainable drug discovery program based in Panama, and 9) Integrate our drug discovery and conservation efforts to develop innovative new economic products from the biodiverse marine and terrestrial habitats of Panama. This proposal seeks to discover new medicines from Panama's rich biodiversity of terrestrial and marine microorganisms. The focus of our discovery efforts are new treatments for cancer, CNS disorders, and tropical diseases as well as agricultural chemicals.
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