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A. Cloned Gene from Sea Animal May Prove Key in Cancer Drug Development

Narrator: This is Science Today. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography have cloned a gene that's associated with anticancer agents from a sea animal. Scientist Margo Haygood says cloning this gene helps solve one of the dilemmas faced when developing drugs from the sea.

Haygood: Sometimes the drug is present at a very low level, sometimes the animal is very rare or difficult to collect, so it's not practical to be able to develop the drug from the wild population of the animals.

Narrator: Instead, the researchers developed a gene from a bryozoan, which is a marine invertebrate that commonly lives on the bottoms of boats or grows on piers and rocks under water. Yet, these organisms produce bryostatins a family of chemical compounds that have potential as anticancer drugs.

Haygood: We are cloning out the whole biosynthetic pathway to make the compound and then put it into bacteria that are easy to use in industrial settings to be able to make lots and lots of it, so that we can have as much as we need for being able to treat disease.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.