Sat | Dec 15, 2018

Research on special sea sponge could hold vital anti-cancer properties

Published:Friday | February 9, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

The Government has set aside $30 million over the next three years to fund high-quality research projects, as part of an agreement on research and development between Jamaica and South Africa in the areas of indigenous knowledge and water research, says Olivia Grange, minister of sports, culture, entertainment and gender affairs.

Grange also cited a recent find in the waters of Port Royal of a special sponge that could have within it some anti-cancer properties.

"A special sponge has been found underwater at Port Royal by the university that is now being developed as an anti-cancer agent and it carries the name Port Royal. For me, that is just great," she said Wednesday at the University of the West Indies, Mona, 19th staging of its Research Days opening ceremony.

The sea sponge is one of the world's simplest multicellular living organisms. The sponge's scientific classification is Porifera, which literally means "pore-bearing," and refers to the countless tiny openings or holes visible on all sponges. Sponges grow in all different shapes, sizes, colours, and textures.

She said that research and development was critical to fuel innovation, national development and economic growth and that UWI, Mona, was leveraging its premier research capabilities to develop strategic partnerships to yield mutually beneficial outcomes.

"As we seek to cement a growth doctrine in our society, the university must ensure that its research modalities continue to enlighten and mould socio-economic policies, which are readily adaptable to the needs of our society," Grange said.

She also added that while universities and industry have been collaborating for years, the rise of the global knowledge economy has intensified the need for strategic partnerships which have honed the competitiveness of companies, universities and regions.

Grange told those assembled that the university has the Government's support as it embarks on a metamorphic transition to ensure that it remains relevant.

"The Government also plays a key role in facilitating development of a research and development ecosystem, and as our fiscal space improves, we will continue to commit additional funding for research," she said.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com