What lies beneath

What lies beneath

A UPEI spin-off thrives in the bio-marine product industry
May 14, 2013

The ocean floor is home to thousands of unknown bacteria that could be the key to producing new cosmetics, hair products and even cancer drugs. The Marine Natural Products Lab at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) has taken advantage of this potential and spun off a successful bio-tech company called Nautilus Biosciences Canada Inc.

Led by chemistry professor Russell Kerr, Canada Research Chair in Marine Natural Products, a team of 17 employees sample sea mud for new bacteria and analyze them — using two mass spectrometers funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation — for potential novel natural products with a focus on ones with anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory or anti-cancer properties. The equipment speeds up Nautilus’ discovery of new natural products.

The company’s expertise in bio-marine sampling and processing has attracted two significant partnerships: one to help produce new hair and skin products with Croda International, the biggest chemical company in the U.K., and another to produce anti-cancer drugs with Scotland’s AvantiCell.