The Department of Biomedicine

A future cancer medicine from the ocean

Professor Stein Ove Døskeland and his group of colleagues at the Department of Biomedicine, University of Bergen, is in the process of testing a new cancer medicine derived from bacteria found in seawater.

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Mankind has throughout history sought after naturally existing medicines. The oceans provide an enormous source of biomolecules. Members of the Translational signalling group in the Department of Biomedicne are currently testing bacteria present in seawater in order to establish whether or not they can be used as source for the production of future cancer medicines. Scientists at SINTEF and the University of Trondheim have harvested bacteria from Trondheimsfjord. Professor Døskeland made the following statement to Bergens Tidende on the 8th March: “Already in the first trial we found that components in the bacteria present in the seawater were more effective against leukaemia cells than today´s cancer medicines.” It also appears that seawater bacteria can be used as raw material for the isolation of components that can be used in treatment of stomach, colon and prostate cancer. Døskeland and co-workers started their trials in autumn 2008. If tests on animals and humans turn out to be successful it is possible that a cancer medicine based on these bacterial components can be made available within a framework of 5-10 years. According to Bergens Tidende the scientists hope that the research unit at Haukeland University Hospital can participate in the important developmental work that needs to be carried out. At the Department of Biomedicine translational biomedical research is a major area of activity. There is close cooperation between this basic research milieu and clinical scientists in the hospital.