Marine microbe agreement swells biodiversity pool

July 2012

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 microorganisms.

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 among the world’s top specialist research institutions, and it has cultivated a sizeable collection of marine microorganisms 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 microorganisms 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.” 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 among these with commercial potential, it may negotiate a royalty fee to AIMS in exchange for commercialisation rights.