New Device Uses Smell to Discover and Detect Novel Molecules in Seawater


Scientists have developed a proof-of-concept device that can “smell” seawater to capture and analyze dissolved compounds. The device, known as the In Situ Marine moleculE Logger (I-SMEL), has the potential to revolutionize drug discovery in fragile marine ecosystems like coral reefs. Underwater organisms release invisible molecules into the seawater, some of which can be used for medicinal purposes. However, capturing and concentrating these molecules without harming the source and ecosystem has been challenging. The I-SMEL device, which resembles make-up remover pads, can easily be handled by divers and pumped with seawater to collect dissolved compounds for further analysis. In a test conducted in Mediterranean Sea caves, the device successfully captured diverse compounds with unknown molecular structures, suggesting the discovery of new natural products. The researchers believe that the I-SMEL device has the potential to provide insights into ecosystem health and facilitate the detection of novel molecules for drug discovery. They plan to adapt the device for long-term seawater filtration in deeper waters.




  1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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