March 27, 2017.
The sea covers around 70% of the earth, and contains around 97% of the world's water. It's also home to almost 240,000 species (that have been identified so far), from mammals and fish, down to bacteria and viruses. However, as a resource, it is still untapped.
Bioprospecting is the discovery and development of new products based on resources from the natural world. Hundreds of plant-based gargles, pills, infusions and ointments date back to Ancient Egypt. Between 1981 and 2014, around two-thirds of the small molecule drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration were derived from or inspired by natural sources, according to the Journal of Natural Products.
The most recent marine-sourced drug to reach the market is Spanish company PharmaMar's Yondelis (trabectedin), launched in 2015. This cancer drug comes from an extract from a sea squirt, first found to have anticancer activity in the late 1960s.
A Ssnapshot of Late Stage Development:
PharmaMar is a Madrid, Spain-based company with a focus on anticancer drugs from marine sources. Its first drug onto the market was Yondelis. Plitidepsin and lurbinectedin, both derived from sea squirts, are partnered with Chugai.
The plitidepsin Phase 3 trial in combination with dexamethasone in multiple myeloma will read out in the second half of 2017, and Phase 2 trials are under way in T-cell lymphoma as a monotherapy and in multiple myeloma as part of a triple therapy. Lurbinectedin is being assessed as a single agent in platinum-resistant ovarian cancer, with a readout in the second half of 2017, and other clinical trials are under way in small cell lung cancer, breast cancer and solid tumors.