Could the cure for melanoma--the most dangerous type of skin cancer-- be a compound derived from a marine invertebrate that lives at the bottom of the ocean? A group of scientists led by Alison Murray, PhD, of the Desert Research Institute (DRI) in Reno,Nevada, think so, and are looking to the microbiome of an Antarctic ascidian called Synoicum adareanum to better understand the possibilities for development of a melanoma-specific drug. Ascidians, or "sea squirts,” are primitive, sac-like marine animals that live attached to ocean-bottoms around the world, and feed on plankton by filtering seawater. S. adareanum, which grows in small colonies in the waters surrounding Antarctica, is known to contain a bioactive compound called "Palmerolide A" with promising anti-melanoma properties--and researchers believe that the compound is produced by bacteria that are naturally associated with S. adareanum. In a new paper, published online on June 2, 2020 in Marine Drugs, Dr. Murray and collaborators from the University of South Florida, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Université de Nantes, France, present important new findings measuring palmerolide levels across samples collected from Antarctica's Anvers Island Archipelago (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anvers_Islandand) characterizing the community of bacteria that make up the microbiome of S. adareanum. The open-access article is titled “Uncovering the Core Microbiome and Distribution of Palmerolide in Synoicum adareanum Across the Anvers Island Archipelago, Antarctica” (https://www.mdpi.com/1660-3397/18/6/298/htm).
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