Corals as a sustainable source of new pharmaceuticals

Natural products and their derivatives bring promising solutions as they represent approximately 50% of currently marketed drugs discovered from 1981 to 2010.

The chemodiversity exploration is just beginning: only 15% of terrestrial plants species have been chemically and biologically studied for their pharmaceutical potential. While oceans cover 70% of the earth surface and are highly endangered, less than 2% of marine species have been explored. Among them, corals and sponges have been shown to be the most promising for discovering new molecules of interest to address cancer, inflammation and infectious diseases.

Despite this fact, only a few molecules of marine origin reach the stage of a clinical trial, mostly due to a lack of knowledge of the physiology of marine animals and to the difficulty of collecting enough biomass to allow extraction of large quantities of target molecules. The pie-chart shows the distribution in drug classes of marine natural products with high biotechnological potential studied from coral species in the last decade (after Rocha et al., 2011 Marine Drugs).


Our team assembles biologists with expertise in cell biology, marine biodiversity and a deep understanding of coral ecology and physiology, and aquaculture engineers mastering coral aquaculture with long experience in observing their behavior and interspecific relationships.

This innovative strategy called Ecotargeting increases the successful discovering of interesting molecules compared to random screening.

Onsite biomass production

All the drugs we develop are issued from coral species that can be cultivated and grown rapidly so that no biological material is harvested from coral reefs. We maintain over 100 species in our facility in a closed aquaculture system (species list in our online store). This system allows strict control of the culture conditions and constant improvement of our biomass culturing methods to optimize coral growth.

We use non sexual reproduction (fragmentation) to propagate our corals in clonal form, and we systematically genotype them to be able to determine their species diagnosis so that we know exactly and in a reproducible way which specimen is being analyzed.

Culture of our coral species of interest are performed under “GLP-like” quality-controlled environment to ensure generation of high quality and reproducible biomass.

Click on image to enlarge

Inland raceways in Florida Keys

Pharmaceutical grade large scale biomass supply

CORAL BIOME’s main strength is to have seriously taken into consideration the difficult and essential task of scaling up production of promising molecules at the multigram-scale level.

We control our sourcing of biomass in several tropical areas (red dots on the map).


Hence we guarantee a secure, sustainable and reproducible source of molecules while taking pressure off wild stocks.

Our assurance quality system enables us to produce pharmaceutical grade biomass leading to production of high quality and reproducible active molecules.

Chemical & biological characterization

Extracts from promising organisms are used to generate chemical profiles to identify molecules of potential interest. Bioactive compounds are isolated and structures defined using latest advanced analytical technology.

We have identified molecules that possess novel interesting activities such as cytotoxicity, anti-inflammatory or antibiotics properties.

Early drug development

Once these novel active molecules have confirmed their biological breakthrough activity, we launch their pharmaceutical drug development program in accordance with regulatory guidelines from EU and US health authorities.

We develop a well characterized, safe formulated drugs to be administrated in humans during the initial phases of clinical trials.

Overall, this approach has allowed us to identify over 30 compounds of interest, with amongst them some breakthrough drug candidates.