by | Apr 27, 2016 | 0 comments

Marine DNA Empowers Cancer Research

Can you imagine that a shark or an eel might help your doctor to treat cancer? Ocean Genome Legacy is collaborating with the Austrian Academy of Sciences to study marine genomes in the search for new cancer therapies.

Cancer cells are harmful because their genetic programming contains errors, causing genes to turn on or off abnormally. By comparing how diverse animal species manage these genetic on/off switches, scientists hope to understand how and why they go wrong—thereby gaining new insights for diagnosing and treating cancer. That’s why the OGL biorepository, with more than 20,000 DNA samples, was a perfect partner for Prof. Christoph Bock’s laboratory at the Center for Molecular Medicine.

The Austrian Academy of Sciences is using OGL samples to develop new cancer diagnostics and therapies. The cownose ray, chain catshark, and weedy seadragon are just some of the species whose genomes are inspiring biomedical research. Image credits: Christoph Bock (top), New England Aquarium (bottom).

So far, OGL has provided the Bock Laboratory with nearly 100 samples from 72 marine species, each with a collaborative story to tell. These samples were donated to OGL by 18 partner institutions and collected from 13 countries, from Iceland to Tuvalu. To name just a few: samples from sharks, rays, and a moray eel came from veterinarians at the New England Aquarium; bluefish samples came from Ian Gardiner, a local sport fisher and friend of OGL; and a flying fish and multicolored rockfishes were contributed by students from Coastal Marine Biolabs and the Sea Education Association. This type of investigation would be hard for medical researchers to do without access to OGL’s incredible array of samples and growing network of dedicated worldwide collaborators.

This marine-inspired cancer research project is a critical example of why humanity needs genome banks like OGL. Using OGL samples with new technologies and bioinformatics, the Bock Lab aims to improve cancer diagnostics and therapies, develop personalized treatments, and guide the discovery of new medicines.

The OGL biorepository is working with researchers around the globe to preserve and make available these valuable DNA samples that may someday lead to new cures and discoveries. If you would like to support our efforts, please consider making a gift.

RECENT NEWS BRIEFS

What’s that fish? OGL tackles seafood security

Have you ever wondered how the fish on your plate is identified? How do you know if a fish is labeled correctly? Unfortunately, seafood mislabeling is a major problem that negatively effects consumers, marine conservation, sustainable fisheries management, and public...

Diving into an ancient forest

Although it sounds like the stuff of fairytales, there really is an ancient forest, made of actual trees, sitting on the sea floor off the coast of Alabama -- and OGL biologists are about to explore it.   At OGL, our mission is to preserve the threatened...

Tuna, flounder, and mackerel, oh my!

Correctly identifying a fish to its species is an important skill for any young biologist to develop. In March, Ocean Genome Legacy taught students to do just that with its “Fish Forensics” workshops at the Boston High School Marine Science Symposium and the North...

OGL discovers a new species (and genus!)

“Discovering a new genus is rare and should be celebrated.” So says Ocean Genome Legacy (OGL) Postdoctoral Research Scientist Reuben Shipway in the video abstract for his new publication in the journal PeerJ. Meet the new genus of shipworm: Tamilokus mabinia. Image...

Finding Fishy Businesses

For the past two years, OGL has had a secret. Our scientists have been quietly working with the New York State Office of the Attorney General to develop a DNA-based seafood monitoring program - the first such program to be conducted by a government organization in the...

X