With a total of 9000 molecules described from diverse structural families and a discovery rate of about 200 compounds per year, sponges have been a source of inspiration for natural product chemists and biologists working in anticancer and, to a certain extent, anti-infectious drug discovery. Nevertheless, there is still a limited number of sponge specialized metabolites considered as leads for further antiviral or antibiotic drug development. Yet, the antimicrobial drug discovery pipelines are still lacking novel compounds to combat challenging infections caused by multidrug resistant (MDR) or emerging pathogens. Therefore, continuing efforts towards the discovery and development of new antimicrobials are needed.
Now more than ever, it has become essential for natural product chemists involved in drug discovery to consider both the sustainability and preservation of natural resources, which are already suffering from huge anthropogenic pressures.
Unlocking the antimicrobial potentials of sponge’s exometabolites
Previous results demonstrated that sponge specialized metabolites can be released in the marine environment through (1) inherent cellular turnover and (2) active expulsion of specialized cells. Hence, all the expelled metabolites (exometabolites) could represent an untapped source of bioactive novel compounds that could be captured without destroying the sponge biomass.