Idea Based on Scripps Marine Drug Discovery Takes First Place at Inaugural Triton Greenovation Challenge
Project targets cancer treatments developed
from novel sources from the sea
Scripps Institution of
Oceanography/University of California, San Diego
development pitch that aims to leverage the scientific discoveries of
researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego into
novel treatments for cancer took first place at a unique campus competition on
Dec. 14, 2011, at Scripps.
Greenovation Network (TGN) “Challenge,” a unique blend of science,
entrepreneurialism, and business development, was designed as a vehicle to
kick-start the commercialization of novel and environmentally focused
echnologies developed by students and researchers at UC San Diego. Sponsored
by the Scripps Foundation, the Challenge was launched through a partnership
between Scripps, the Rady School of Management, and von Liebig Center
for Entrepreneurism & Technology at the Jacobs School of Engineering.
“The partnership created by the TGN unites our
respective areas of expertise towards the pursuit of a common goal—the
commercialization of innovative ideas and technology coming out of Scripps,”
said Wendy Hunter Barker, director of institutional initiatives at Scripps. “This
Challenge created a means of moving the winning projects one step closer to
that goal through funding for mentorship and business planning.”
winning idea came from Rady student Simon Bailey and his Aequoreus Pharma
Innovation project, which is targeting a business niche between the
pharmaceutical industry and academia. Aequoreus plans to tap the oceans as a
new source of drug candidates based on the research and discovery of Scripps
scientists William Fenical and Paul
Jensen, who have helped shape the field of marine biomedicine. Aequoreus
proposes to focus on early-stage compounds for the growing oncology market.
In the business of
new drug development, the search for novel sources extracted from land has hit
a dead end. In the decades following Alexander Fleming’s 1929 discovery
of penicillin from a soil fungus, researchers exhausted the planet’s
terrestrial environments for similar natural microbes that produce new
antibiotics to treat infectious diseases.
Fenical and Jensen have dedicated
their careers to cultivating the vast new resources for drug discovery awaiting
in the world’s seas. Across a
range of ocean habitats that span from mild to extreme, and the broadest
biodiversity on the planet, Fenical and Jensen seek to determine which
organisms in the ocean make potentially therapeutic products and which don’t.
are novel, unique organisms—plants, animals, and microbes—that have a different
genetic composition (than terrestrial organisms),” said Fenical, director of
the Scripps Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine, in a Scripps explorations now interview. “Unique
genes equals the production of unique compounds.”
The TGN Challenge’s second place finisher was student Joshua Windmiller’s
project focusing on printed biofuel cells, follwed by Bulbscycle.com, student
Andrew Ajello’s project focusing on a website for a new green method of light
bulb disposal. All three top finishers were awarded cash prizes as well as mentoring
support from von Liebig technology and business advisors and Rady MBA
Innovation fellows to help develop commercialization plans for their ideas.
“The goal (of the TGN
Challenge) was to provide student participants with the skills to transform
promising technologies into innovative products that will help create jobs,
boost American competitiveness, and strengthen our economy,” said Lada
Rasochova, cofounder of the TGN.
-- Mario C. Aguilera (December 23, 2011)