Banking on bioprospecting in Costa Rica
Researchers at Costa Rica’s flagship biodiversity institute are hoping that an ambitious new project will ease its financial worries.
The National Biodiversity Institute's (INBio) five-year project aims to find chemicals in wild species that could form the basis of new drugs, reports Rex Dalton in Nature.
INBio’s previous efforts at 'bioprospecting' failed to yield major moneymaking products, and the institute hit financial problems when several grants ended in 2005 (see Funding crisis hits Costa Rican biodiversity institute).
This time around INBio is looking for compounds that can be easily isolated and duplicated from sources such as fungi, leaves or bacteria, instead of focusing on insects as it did previously.
The findings will eventually be entered into a free access database for researchers around the world to investigate. Profits from successful findings will be ploughed back into INBio in the form of licence fees.