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Joint Research Approach on Marine Microbes

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A Scottish marine biotechnology firm has joined forces with the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) in a bid to discover innovative and high-value products from micro-organisms.

Scientists from Aquapharm Biotechnology are to be given exclusive commercial access to a selection of Australian marine microbes in the AIMS Bioresources Library.

Aquapharm believes the deal will lead to the discovery of useful new active ingredients for use in pharmaceutical, nutritional and personal care products.

Jon Williams, VP Commercial at Aquapharm, explained: “AIMS is amongst the world’s top specialist research institutions, and it has cultivated a sizeable collection of marine micro-organisms from Australia’s unique marine territory. This territory spans an immense 16 million square kilometres, leading to high biodiversity and the potential for novel microbes and their products.

“Aquapharm has signed an agreement with AIMS that grants us exclusive commercial access to a select range of these organisms for testing and development, with the option to conclude an exclusive licence agreement for commercialisation if they are found to be suitable.

“We are optimistic that this opportunity to screen an even wider variety of micro-organisms from a diverse range of habitats and organisms will complement the efforts made to-date in mining our own collection, and help us to discover some exciting new products which could ultimately find their way into anything from advanced medicines to toiletries, or functional foods and drinks.”

Under the terms of this deal, Aquapharm will invest its specialist expertise to culture and screen a range of these microbes. If the Scottish firm finds an extract amongst these which it believes can be used in commercial products, it may negotiate a royalty fee to AIMS in exchange for commercialisation rights.

Jon added: “The signing of this agreement is recognition not only of Aquapharm’s research and development capabilities, but also the immense opportunity presented by Australian marine microbial biodiversity. Our ability to commercialise suitable compounds within the right markets is a win-win situation that will allow us to tap into AIMS’ superb resources, whilst helping AIMS to further realise the potential of its Bioresources Library.”

Libby Evans-Illidge, manager of AIMS Bioresources Library, said: “AIMS is tasked with supporting the sustainable development of Australia’s marine environment and has spent over 25 years building up a collection of tens of thousands of samples representative of Australia’s immense marine biodiversity at more than 1,600 sites. By facilitating access to the Bioresources Library, its vast diversity of natural molecules and attributes can be probed for those with the potential to be commercialised and generate benefits for Australia.

“We welcome the partnership with Aquapharm and look forward to the discovery and development of new and commercially viable products.”

Today’s announcement is the second time in recent months Aquapharm has entered into a collaborative agreement with a like-minded cutting-edge research organisation.

The company, which has bases in Edinburgh and Oban, recently announced a partnership with the Centre for Agriculture Bioscience International (CABI). The deal allows both companies to gain access to one other’s microbe collections as well as sharing their know-how on the production and cultivation of select extracts.

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