Marine Sponges: Potential Sources of New Antimicrobial Drugs

TitleMarine Sponges: Potential Sources of New Antimicrobial Drugs
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsLaport, MS, Santos, OCS, Muricy, G
JournalCurrent Pharmaceutical Biotechnology
ISBN Number1389-2010
KeywordsAntibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, antiprotozoal, antiviral, resistance, sponge-associated bacteria, sponges

Sponges (phylum Porifera) are sessile marine filter feeders that have developed efficient defense mechanisms against foreign attackers such as viruses, bacteria, or eukaryotic organisms. Marine sponges are among the richest sources of pharmacologically-active chemicals from marine organisms. It is suggested that (at least) some of the bioactive secondary metabolites isolated from sponges are produced by functional enzyme clusters, which originated from the sponges and their associated microorganisms. More than 5,300 different products are known from sponges and their associated microorganisms, and more than 200 new metabolites from sponges are reported each year. As infectious microorganisms evolve and develop resistance to existing pharmaceuticals, the marine sponge provides novel leads against bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic diseases. Many marine natural products have successfully advanced to the late stages of clinical trials, as for example ara-A (vidarabine), an anti-viral drug used against the herpes simplex encephalitis virus. This substance is in clinical use for many years. Moreover, a growing number of candidates have been selected as promising leads for extended preclinical assessment, including manzamine A (activity against malaria, tuberculosis, HIV, and others), lasonolides (antifungal activity) and psammaplin A (antibacterial activity). In this review we have surveyed the discoveries of products derived from marine sponges and associated bacteria that have shown in vivo efficacy or potent in vitro activity against infectious and parasitic diseases, including bacterial, viral, fungal and protozoan infections. Our objective was to highlight the susbtances that have the greatest potential to lead to clinically useful treatments.