Issue 1's archives
In recent years populations of jellyfish have been exploding, which may present the food and cosmetics industries with interesting new additives.Writing in the Journal of Natural Products, researchers from the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research in Saitama, and Shimva Chemical Industries in Kyoto, describe a process for extracting high yields of a protein substance called mucin that could be used as a starting material for production of designer mucins with multiple uses. The researchers investigated the extraction from five species of jellyfish of a novel glycoprotein, a member of the mucin family. The yields, ranging from one to three per cent of dry weight, and 0.02 to 0.1 per cent of wet weight, were classified as high. The extracted polymeric substance from all of the species formed a gel in aqueous solution. The researchers have labeled this substance, which is common in jellyfish and similar to the human mucin MUC5AC, “qniumucin” and have suggested the utilization of this compound as a new marine resource, based on the present commercial use of gastric mucin from porcine stomachs and bovine submaxillary glands, towards and potential for use in food and cosmetics.
A team led by Qian Cheng and Bradley Moore of UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography was recently able to synthesize an antibiotic natural product created by a Hawaiian sea sediment bacterium. They did so by combining a cocktail of enzymes, the protein catalysts inside cells, in a relatively simple mixing process inside a laboratory flask. “This study may signal the start of a new era in how drugs are synthesized,” said Moore. Most of the medicinal drugs on the market today are made synthetically. Researchers such as Moore and Scripps Oceanography’s Bill Fenical have looked to the oceans as rich sources of new natural products to potentially combat diseases such as cancer. The antibiotic synthesized in Moore’s laboratory, called enterocin, was assembled in approximately two hours. The new research also carries the potential to combine certain natural enzymes to produce new molecules that typically cannot be found in nature with the goal of developing new drugs. Moore calls these “unnatural natural products.”
Energy Drinks Containing Jellyfish-based Bioluminescence Ingredients That Glow in the Dark, or Poison from the Puffer Fish?Posted On: January 11, 2008
In Japan, energy drink makers are working on a stinging jellyfish-based (Aequorea victoria) bioluminescence beverage that glows in the dark from which the luminescent protein aequorin and the fluorescent molecule GFP (green fluorescent protein) have been extracted, purified, and cloned. The Sea of Japan is awash in these alien-looking, creatures, a team of researchers led by biochemist Kiminori Ushida from Riken (the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research) in Saitama and Shimva Chemical Industries in Kyoto, are working on a way to commercially extract the Glycoproteins (Qniumucin) from the giant Nomura’s jellyfish which can get up to 6-foot-long, the monsters weigh in at more than 200 kilograms. This new source of ocean proteins may be reminiscent of the 1973 movie “Soylent Green”, but with the exploding jellyfish populations around the world oceans, the food and beverage industry may soon have some interesting new additives, suggests the research
Also in Japan, beverage companies are working on a safe fugu (puffer fish) extract to be used in Japanese energy drinks, the fish is highly toxic, but despite this or perhaps because of this deadly side effect, it is considered a delicacy among the Japanese. Puffer fish (Sphoeroides testudineus) poisoning results from the ingestion of fish containing the deadly nerve toxin called tetrodotoxin and it is the most common and lethal form of marine poisoning in Japan. Neurological effects vary depending on the severity of poisoning but can include numbness, slurred speech, incoordination, and paralysis. The puffer’s highly toxic liver poison is 1,200 times deadlier than cyanide. A lethal dose could fit on a pinhead. Over 10,000 tons of these so-called blowfish or puffer fish are consumed in Japan each year, in fact, it is considered an anti-karoshi modality and a highly effective aphrodisiac.