The sea is offering the Wilmington area another path to prosperity as research and the business of marine biotechnology prepare to grow here. It’s “an industry that’s waiting to happen,” said Randall Johnson, director of the N.C. Biotechnology Center’s southeastern office.
And a new umbrella organization – the Marine Biotechnologies Center of Innovation – hopes to serve as a catalyst for growth and commercialization of marine biotech efforts, said its CEO, Deborah Mosca.
Mosca and a panel of other experts spoke about the field at a gathering Tuesday at the University of North Carolina Wilmington Burney Center. The upbeat marine biotech program was part of UNCW’s annual Economic Outlook Conference.
UNCW’s MARBIONC Center, or the Marine Biotechnology Center of North Carolina, will break ground the first week of September at the Center for Marine Science.
For students in the marine biotechnology program, this could mean big opportunities.
“Students will have the chance to do research that could result in permanent future employment,” said Dr. Jeffery Wright of the Marine Science department.
The center will also help set UNCW’s marine biotechnology students on a path for success.
“The MARBIONC will prepare students for careers in biotechnology and transform how we traditionally approach educating future marine scientists,” said Kevin Zelnio, an independent scientist and assistant editor of Deep Sea News. “It recognizes there is an industry for students that combines very useful research with a marine science education.”
Other hopes for the center include job creation and spinoff companies.
But the main goal of the center is to develop new products and commercialize them.
Preparation Begins for Construction of New Marine Biotechnology Research Facility (MARBIONC), University of North Carolina — Wilmington, NCPosted On: March 4, 2011
A request for pre-qualification submittals has gone out for construction of the Marine Biotechnology Research Facility (MARBIONC) University of North Carolina Wilmington, NC. The State of North Carolina through the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) is seeking contractor pre-qualification statements for work to be performed on a project known as the “Marine Biotechnology Research Facility (MAR- BIONC)” on the UNCW Center for Marine Science Myrtle Grove campus in Wilmington, NC.
The project consists of construction of a new 66,600 square foot Marine Biotechnology Research Laboratory building. Work will be accomplished through a Single Prime Contract. The project is partially funded by Federal a NIST grant via American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Bidding is anticipated for early spring 2011.
North Carolina’s MARBIONC has recently submitted a proposal to Pepsi’s Refresh Project to help fund their work to discover new antibiotics against drug-resistant “superbugs”. The Pepsi Refresh grant will allow MARBIONC to explore the untapped biodiversity of marine micro-environments to isolate microbes that may produce antibiotic cures against this growing threat.
Drug resistant strains of bacteria and fungi or “superbugs” are on the rise, killing tens of thousands of people each year. There is a crucial need for new classes of antibiotics and a critical shortage of such new compounds in drug company pipelines. Some of the most important antibiotics we use today have been isolated from terrestrial microbes. MARBIONC’s plan is to collect new species of antibiotic producing microbes from unique marine environments known as frontier habitats. In the laboratory we will culture these new microbes and extract their antibiotic chemicals to use in drug testing against these lethal “superbugs”.
North Carolina: Ceremonial groundbreaking of Marine Biotechnology in North Carolina (MARBIONC) building / Grand opening of Oyster Research HatcheryPosted On: October 10, 2010
Ground-breaking ceremony for the Marine Biotechnology in North Carolina (MARBIONC) building and the grand opening of the Oyster Research Hatchery has been scheduled for October 22, 2010.
The scope of the project is to design and develop, construct and occupy a state-of-the-art research-to-product science building for the MARBIONC program at UNCW’s Center for Marine Science in Wilmington, North Carolina.
The 69,303 sq ft 2-story building will contain 12 laboratories with contiguous 4 offices each, 3 large incubator laboratories for cultured source material, media preparation areas, administrative space, small conference rooms, and break areas with restrooms.
After a 3 month negotiation period, MARBIONC, a non-profit entity found in the Center for Marine Science of UNCW, established an agreement with Cary-based Ocean Therapeutics, Inc. (OTI) to outsource the licensing of its products, promoting further development and marketing.
The acronym MARBIONC stands for marine biotechnology in North Carolina. Their Web site defines marine biotechnology as the use of marine organisms, at the whole cell or molecular level, to provide products, technologies and processes that will benefit society.
Considering that 50 percent of drugs come from natural products, this agreement opens up opportunities to the future of marine biotechnology advances, which could in turn benefit the North Carolina economy as a whole.
“There is a correlation here. We need to start extrapolating other opportunities from the base industries,” said Steven A. Fontana, J.D., the Senior Technology Development Officer of the Center for Marine Science.
The agreement is a prime example of this: MARBIONC supplies companies like OTI with lead molecules and ideas, and they “translate the science into the business aspect,” Dr. Jeffrey L.C. Wright, UNCW Professor of Marine Science and MARBIONC Research Director, said.
One compound that these two entities are working together on is brevenal. The research program of MARBIONC attributes data to brevenal’s effectiveness in treating the lung disease COPD. In this partnership, OTI possesses the technology to grow on a more “monster scale” in the market world.