Experts from Costa Rica and the Spanish company PharmaMar, dedicated to marine biotechnology research, beginning in February will seek new cures and treatments for cancer in organisms living in Costa Rican waters.

The Spanish company will work for five years in the territorial waters of Costa Rica thanks to an agreement with the National Institute of Biodiversity (INBio), promoted by the Ministry of Foreign Trade (Comex).

A spokesman of the INBio explained that the Costa Rican and Spanish specialists will develop innovative studies on macro-organisms, especially sponges, both in the Pacific as well as the Caribbean to support the discovery of innovative drugs with anti-tumor activity.

The director general of the Institute, Carlos Hernandez, said in a statement that the agreement, signed last September, enables both organizations to work together and to the mutual exchange of knowledge, each in their specialty.

“Being able to take part in trainings provided by PharmaMar, learning about modern strategies for the discovery of new drugs, are some of the elements included in the agreement,” explained Hernandez.

The explorations, added the scientist, will be an opportunity for both entities to examine the chemical composition of certain species of macro, and perhaps in the future micro-organisms, not only for potential anticancer applications but also anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial.

Scientists do not need to take complete specimens to study, but only samples to analyze their chemical composition and active ingredients and from there try to develop drugs.

If successful, Costa Rica will share the rights with the company, and would get a share of the profits.

Director of Research and Development at PharmaMar, Carmen Cuevas, said that this agreement will transfer knowledge.

It will also serve to catalog the species found in the waters of Costa Rica.

“This joint effort will ultimately help to have a better understanding of marine biodiversity in the country,” said Cuevas.

PharmaMar was founded in 1986 and belongs to the Zeltia group. It is a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the search for innovative marine-derived treatments.

In their 25 years of operation, the company has accumulated more than 125,000 specimens of marine organisms, they have discovered 700 new chemical entities and have identified 30 new families of compounds.

During that period, PharmaMar has applied or have been granted over 1456 patents, and has spent $650 million on research and development.

Source: Costa Rica North