BluePharmTrain is a multi-disciplinary alliance of 17 European academic and industrial partners working in collaboration to train young scientists in multi-disciplinary aspects of blue biotechnology. It has been funded as a Marie Curie Initial Training Network that started at 1 September 2013 and will run till 31 August 2017.

The research & training network will provide a complementary set of experimental and conceptual local and network-wide training modules and workshops to 15 young researchers. Training will include both scientific content related subjects in cell biology, microbiology, natural product chemistry, genomics & transcriptomics (omics) and socio-economics and complemented with transferable skills.

The focus of the project is on using marine sponges for the development of new pharmaceuticals. Marine sponges have been long since recognised as the most prolific source in the marine environment, presenting more than 7,000 bioactive molecules with the number of bioactive compounds discovered still increasing every year. In addition, sponges are known to host extremely diverse microbial communities that may account for up to half of the sponge’s body mass. Hence, the development of methods to obtain significant quantities of sponge-derived bioactives will most likely have high impact on exploitation of the biosynthetic capacities of sponges and their microbes.

BluePharmTrain has the following key objectives:

  • Establish routines for the isolation of sponge-specific microorganisms by integrating novel high-throughput cultivation strategies and state-of-the-art genomics and transcriptomics.
  • Establish sponge cell cultures of target species by translating ecology into technology.
  • Develop heterologous expression tools for sponge-derived bioactives.
  • In addition, we aim to provide a fundamental understanding of the sponge holobiont.

Ultimately, fulfilling these objectives should lead to the development of an extensive technology platform that is applicable for obtaining a wide variety of bioactive compounds from physiologically distinct sponges