BlueMarDrugs: Exploring the biotechnological potential of marine invertebrates from the Algarve coast

Master Thesis subject (30 ECTS)
Marine life represents almost half of the total Earth biodiversity, and marine organisms have a high importance in the culture of some countries, especially for gastronomy and traditional medicine. Nutritionists defend that some marine animals especially mollusks could be the perfect food supply due to their high protein concentration and low fat content. As a result of living in aquatic system, those organisms have to cope with specific biochemical and physiological constrains such as darkness, predation, exposure to ultraviolet radiation, lack of physical defense (soft body), cold temperatures and high pressure. As a consequence, marine invertebrates produce a high amount of natural products as an adaptation to the environment, with important biological activities, including antioxidant and anti-tumoral. Marine biotechnology has spent the last decades studying marine organisms as sources of natural bioactive compounds. So far, aprox.10000 marine natural compounds with powerful bioactivities were already extracted from marine invertebrates including tunicates, sponges, sea hares, sea cucumbers and bryozoans. Some of these compounds are already in the market and others are being used in clinical/preclinical trials, such as Zicotine (Prialt TM) used to treat chronic pain and Citarabina TM; eceinascidin 743 (Yondelis TM ) and eribulin mesylate (Halaven TM ) an anticancer agents. In this context, this work will explore the biotechnological potential of less studied species marine invertebrates from the Algarve Coast (Portugal) as potential sources of antioxidant and neuroprotective molecules.
Number of students: 
academic year: 
Contact person email: 
contact person first name: 
Luisa Custódio
Other people involved: 
Luísa Barreira
Institutes Involved: 
Reference Number: RP-35552