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USP researchers participate in Solomon Islands Drug Discovery Expedition

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The drug discovery research team (left to right) Guilherme Longo (Georgia Institute of Technology), Dr Katy Soapi (USP), Talemo Waqa (USP) and Remmington Poulin (Georgia Institute of Technology).

A team of scientists from The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Institute of Applied Sciences (IAS) participated in a two-week expedition to remote regions of the Solomon Islands in early January 2016.

Alongside collaborators and researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Georgia Institute of Technology, USA, the team’s goal was to discover marine organisms which could be explored as a potential source of useful drugs.

The team was led by Dr Katy Soapi and comprised of the Assistant Project Manager, Mr Klaus Feussner, Scientific officer Mr Joape Ginigini, Technician Mr Talemo Waqa and their overseas counterparts.

Drug discovery efforts focus on four major disease areas of importance to the United States and developing nations: infectious diseases including tuberculosis and drug-resistant pathogens; neglected tropical diseases including hookworms, roundworms and malaria; cancer; and neurodegenerative and central nervous system disorders.

The team collected seaweeds, sponges and marine microbes whose chemical extracts and chemical constituents are now being screened in the four therapeutic areas.

Mr Feussner, while acknowledging the role of IAS’s long-term collaborators stated that they would continue to take the lead role in the region in the study of plants, marine organisms and bacteria to discover new drugs. 

Aside from drug discovery efforts, results of the research and ecological surveys will contribute to developing innovative conservation and management options that will help preserve biodiversity and the health of coral reefs in the South Pacific.

This news item was published on 9 Mar 2016 04:32:11 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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