ZOOMARINE park, near Albufeira, opened a special research laboratory this week for the study of molluscs and their link to cures for life threatening diseases. The initiative is a joint partnership with the Instituto Português de Malacologia, an institute dedicated to the science and study of molluscs. The official opening ceremony was presided over by the Secretary of State for Sea Affairs, Dr. Nuno Fernandes, who also took the opportunity to give a lecture to 30 students about the importance of preserving the sea – one of nature’s richest natural resources.
The research team will be led by biologist Gonçalo Calado, the Institute’s President, who is planning to study the life cycles and stimulate reproduction of a group of small rare molluscs that both attack and defend themselves by using venom. Following on from the success of AZT – one of the principal drugs used to treat HIV sufferers, which was developed following the study of substances removed from small sea molluscs in the Caribbean – the new unit at Zoomarine also hopes to be able to discover groundbreaking new medicines.