The sea covers 70% of the planet and holds 80% of all life. Over the millennia, marine organisms have evolved a range of substances with biological activity that are used for survival, defence, attack and communication. These substances hold great promise for the development of new drugs.
First, we gather samples of marine organisms (mostly invertebrates), study their taxonomy and begin to assess their biological activity in tumor cells. We currently have the world’s largest collection of marine organisms: nearly 200,000 samples of macro- and micro-organisms.
In a second phase, we isolate the substance responsible for the activity, determine its chemical structure and design a chemical synthesis process that can be industrialized. Then, the pharmaceutical formula of the new compound is defined, and it is administered in animal models to observe its efficacy against a range of tumors. If the results are positive, research begins with cancer patients.
As a result of this research process, we have a portfolio of products that are at various stages of clinical development.
PharmaMar was the first company in the world to develop a marine-based cancer drug from discovery through to commercialization. PharmaMar’s YONDELIS® (trabectedin) was the first antitumor drug of marine origin to be approved for commercialization, specifically to treat soft tissue sarcoma. It has since obtained approval for treating ovarian cancer. It is available in close to 80 countries and in the main oncology markets: the US, Europe and Japan.