Pacific Natural Products Research Centre

The Centre was established in 2001 under the guidance and leadership of Professor William Aalbersberg as a research branch for the Institute of Applied Sciences (IAS) involved in bioprospecting work on marine and terrestrial organisms and plants. The Centre has developed in strength and independence, establishing several partnerships over the years. In 2005, the Centre secured an ICBG grant through a consortium of Georgia Institute of Technology, Scripps Institute of Oceanography and IAS. This competitive grant has been successfully renewed twice and we are currently on a new 5 year term (2014-2019) of collaborative research. Success of the ICBG collaboration has brought new grants. The Centre was recently awarded a GEF (Global Environment Facility) grant through the Government of Fiji to work on nature-based products and building capacities for the application of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing (ABS) in Fiji.

The Centre continues to focus its research on the search for antibacterial, antifungal as well as anticancer activity from marine and terrestrial samples. New bioassays and in particular, an anti-dengue test facility is in the process of being set up. The Centre houses a library of actinomycete bacteria isolated from marine sediments and organisms including more than 1900 strains of marine bacteria and more than 3350 marine invertebrate/algae extracts that have been analyzed for general toxicity and against our in-house drug resistant pathogenic bacteria and fungi. We are also in the process of establishing libraries of pure compounds extracts from marine macro and microorganisms. There is also a DNA laboratory used in plant and animal/bacterial identification. We also supervise research students at the postgraduate level on topics relating to natural products chemistry and microbiology.

Bioprospecting Samples Database:

The Bioprospecting Samples Database, the first ever of its kind to be compiled in the Pacific, houses biodiversity and screening information related to marine samples collected in Fiji over the past 17 years. Preliminary taxonomic identification (family, genus and species, if known) of marine samples collected in Fiji, images of collection specimens and collection sites are also available from the database. Access the database by clicking here.

Research and Collaboration Opportunities:

The PNPRC is interested in building new collaborations with Academic Institutions, Public-Private Partnerships and Private Companies for the study of natural products to discover new Pharmaceuticals, Agrochemicals, Flavorings & Preservatives or Cosmetic Ingredients. We can offer the following to our prospective partners:

Government Liaison:

The PNPRC can liaise with relevant government agencies & local communities to obtain all necessary permits and agreements for the collection and export of natural products within the island nations that support The University of the South Pacific (Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu). The PNPRC’s collection policy adheres to the principles laid out in the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol on equitable Access & Benefit Sharing agreements.

Logistical Support:

The PNPRC can provide all planning and logistical work required to support field work for the collection of natural products throughout the South Pacific. This also includes preliminary taxonomic identification of both marine and terrestrial specimens and the deposition and maintenance of voucher samples in the USP Marine Reference Collection or National Herbarium.

Natural Product Libraries:

The PNPRC maintains growing libraries of diverse high quality natural product extract and pure compound libraries in formats suitable for immediate bioassay and analysis in partner’s bioassays. In addition, we have a large library of living marine microbial strains (Actinomycetes & Fungi) available for fermentation as well as libraries of extracts prepared from small scale fermentation of these strains.

Natural Products Chemistry:

The PNPRC has well equipped natural product and analytical laboratories and can perform natural product extraction services, bioassay-guided purification of active metabolites and the isolation of gram quantities of metabolites required for more in-depth biological testing or to support semi-synthetic programs. We have LC-MS facilities and natural products databases that allow for the rapid discrimination of known compounds.Microbial Services: The PNPRC can perform new marine microbial strain isolation, characterization and preservation. We have facilities to support small scale fermentation and strain and process improvement for yield improvement of bioactive metabolites.

Bioassay Support:

The PNPRC has established in-house bioassays for general toxicity and for identifying extracts/compounds active against drug resistant pathogenic bacteria and fungi. We can provide extract and compound libraries for bioassay at our partner’s facilities or bring new assays in-house for testing in our facilities. We are especially interested in collaborations aimed at the discovery of potential new drugs for the treatment of Neglected Tropical Diseases.

To explore further potential Research and Collaboration with the PNPRC, please contact us.

 Contact

Name: Mr Joape Ginigini
Title: Senior Scientific Officer
Unit: Pacific Natural Products Research Centre
Email: joape.ginigini@usp.ac.fj
Contact: +679 323 2805

 

 

Nagoya Protocol

The Nagoya Protocol and its access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilisation under the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international agreement. Fiji has ratified the Nagoya protocol in 2011 but has been using an ad-hoc Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) policy consistent with the Convention on Biological Diversity and developed under the IAS’s International Cooperative Biodiversity Group (ICBG) programme as a precursor to draw up a legal framework especially for bioprospecting. Since 2014, the Institute of Applied Sciences (IAS) started a collaborative Global Environment Facility (GEF) project aimed at the establishment of a legal framework for Fiji’s ABS policy with key government line agencies of Ministry of Local Government, Housing, Environment, Infrastructure and Transport (MLHE), the Ministry of i-Taukei Affairs (MTA) and the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests (MoFF).

International Cooperative Biodiversity Group (ICBG)

The ICBG program aims to integrate improvement of human health through drug discovery, conservation of biodiversity, promotion of scientific research and economic capacity of developing countries. In particular, the program hopes to discover and develop new pharmaceuticals from natural sources and to conserve the resources from which these pharmaceuticals are derived. The project also endeavors to work with the local and national governments to secure access to marine samples and establish benefit-sharing protocols and mechanisms that support the research activities.

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