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ETH Project with Costa Rica Set up for Drug Discovery

Nature produces highly interesting substances, which for years have met with great scientific interest. Chance, such as is used for instance in combinatorial chemistry for the synthesis of compounds, cannot replace the intelligence of nature, especially not in terms of the structural diversity of substances. In tropical countries in particular, biodiversity is high and hence the variety of potentially active molecules is very wide. Investigating biodiversity is important for industry and hence one argument for protecting tropical habitats. Cooperation between countries in the Second and Third World that have a high biodiversity and industrial countries that carry out top-quality research has so far often been one-sided at the expense of the developing countries.

Long-distance Cooperation in a Virtual Environment

The BioProfil project is intended to analyse natural substances from various aspects, although the main focus of attention is their pharmacological potential. The interdisciplinary approach with the support of new media facilitates the long-term cooperation with the Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio) in Costa Rica. With the Vireal Lab at ETH, cooperation is possible in a virtual environment over long distances. This international model project for the discovery of new leading substances for drug research focuses on globally linked work with natural substances, in which INBio and ETH are equal partners.

Cooperation on a fair basis

ETH will set a good example with this project and show that global collaboration in research borne by the state and the business world as well as by private foundations is possible on a fair basis. For this reason, representatives of each interest group were invited to jointly discuss the feasibility and pave the way for the future.

ETH Zuerich. May 2003.

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