Sponges are recognized as one of the richest sources of bioactive compounds from the marine environment. Harvesting organisms from the ocean is not environmentally friendly or economically feasible for clinical development of these compounds. It is important to develop a sustainable primary and/or an immortal cell line that can be used towards the production of compounds in the future.
The aim of this project is to create a normal and/or immortalized sponge cell line.
Each species of sponge requires unique environmental conditions, so first we must optimize the culture conditions. We will do this by incorporating microfluidics to create 3D droplets with encapsulated cells and by optimizing nutrient media using a genetic algorithm. Once optimal culture conditions have been achieved, transcriptomic analysis will be used to determine the best way to manipulate the sponge genome through the up or down regulation of certain genes to create an immortal or a normal cell line. When each of these components is combined, a novel platform of sponge cell culture that could be used in the production of bioactive compounds will be developed.
There are possibilities for MSc thesis projects, however I am currently conducting my research in the USA at Florida Atlantic University – Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce, Florida. If you are interested in doing a thesis in the USA, please contact me at email@example.com.
This project is part of BluePharm Train, a Marie Curie ITN. For information about the project visit www.benthis.eu/en/bluepharmtrain.htm and for more information on FAU-HBOI visit http://www.fau.edu/hboi/