Did medicines first and foremost doctor Hippocrates also invent the phrase “take two willow barks and call me in the morning.” It would seem so. Man has been using natural product medicines from nature forever. Hippocrates wrote about his prescription of willow bark extract as a wide ranging treatment for many ailments. We now know that he was using aspirin which is the active ingredient in willow bark. Even today Hippocrates Aspirin is still regarded as a Wonder Drug.
Over the past decade billions have been invested by pharmaceutical and biotech companies seeking to discover new medicines from the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, including the marine ecosystems. Certainly the most diverse ecosystems of all are the plankton blooms. Tragically just as we are beginning to search those blooms for cures, they are disappearing globally at cataclysmic rates.
It is widely reported that an amount of ocean pasture is being lost in each five year span that is equal to what would be lost in the eradication of an entire Amazon rainforest. This the largest living ecosystem is losing its life at a rate of 1% per year. It could well be as we do nothing to slow the loss of ocean pastures that we will lose the medicines we need most before we can even discover them.
The deadline just closed for what we hope will be a major treatise on the exploration of plankton blooms in the search for new marine medicines. Here’s the call for those papers that went out last year from the Journal of Marine Drugs. It gives one an idea of the depth and breadth of what we might find in our ocean pastures.
The inhabitants of the open water are under the influence of gradual changes in nutrients, light, temperature, mechanical cues. But only chemical signals have the potential to provide important directional information about conspecific, predatory or competing species. Hence, a very interesting chemistry has developed that has the power to shape the ecosystem. But these interesting metabolic tasks also resulted in the evolution of metabolites with interesting pharmacological activity. Bioactive metabolites include for example dissolved gases, lipids, oxylipins, polyketides, peptides, and proteins that demonstrate a surprising structural and functional complexity.
In this special issue we want to explore all topics in natural product chemistry of marine plankton and to illustrate current methodological and conceptual challenges in plankton research. Especially the complex interplay of toxins, nutrients and infochemicals shaping the marine plankton is of interest, but also the pharmacological activity, biosynthesis and genetics of the multitude of interesting metabolites will be covered in this special issue.
Recent progress reveals an emerging field that calls for special attention and I therefore invite you to contribute your exciting work to the special issue on “Marine Plankton” of Marine Drugs.
Prof. Dr. Georg Pohnert
Marine Drugs Journal
Marine Drugs (ISSN 1660-3397) publishes reviews, regular research papers and short notes on the research, development and production of drugs from the sea. Our aim is to encourage scientists to publish their experimental and theoretical research in as much detail as possible, particularly synthetic procedures and characterization information for bioactive compounds. There is no restriction on the length of the experimental section.
Subject areas include:
- Marine natural products
- Medicinal drugs
- Medicine analysis
- Marine pharmacology
- Pharmaceutical biology
- Marine biotechnology or biomedical engineering
- Molecular biology
- Enzymatic engineering
- Marine glycobiology and glycochemistry
- Clinical trials
- Biological and biomedical material
- Marine drug development
We are very much looking forward to reading this special edition.
And yet it works.