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ICBG Brazil

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There is an urgent need for new drugs against fungal infections and parasitic diseases, as well as a continuous need for agents with new mechanisms of action to treat cancer. The contribution of natural products, those small molecules produced by plants, animals and microorganisms, to drug discovery and development is well documented. However, most pharmaceutical companies have stopped or deemphasized their natural product drug discovery programs in favour of high-throughput screening of large libraries of synthetic compounds. Nevertheless, the productivity of pharmaceutical companies in developing new drugs has decreased in the last decades.

According to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Brazil is classified among one of the world’s 17 megadiverse countries, incorporating 70% of the world’s catalogued animal and plant species. It is estimated that Brazil hosts between 15-20% of the entire world’s biological diversity, and the greatest number of endemic species on a global scale. This diversity is an important resource, not only for the environmental services it provides, but also for development and sustainable use opportunities. In spite of this huge biodiversity, no single natural product isolated from Brazilian natural sources has been developed by pharmaceutical companies. Historically, bioprospecting research in Brazil has prioritized plants.

Symbiotic microorganisms have been shown as prolific sources of unique bioactive natural products, as demonstrated by few works with endophytes and marine-associated microorganisms in Brazil; this Brazilian ICBG will be the first bioprospecting program on bacterial symbionts of Brazilian social insects. This project will address this untapped source of natural products as potential therapeutic agents for protozoal diseases.

This project is jointly funded by the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health in the US and the Sao Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) in Brazil.

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Clardy Lab
Harvard University
Lab phone: (617) 432-2845
Fax: (617) 432-6424

Pupo Lab
University of Sao Paulo
Lab phone: +55 16 3315-4710

Currie Lab
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Lab phone: (608) 890-0237
Fax: (608) 262-9865