Friday, July 31, 2015

Biotechnology Comes to Baja California, Mexico...

Under a new binational partnership to be announced Tuesday, a Baja California aquaculture firm and a Ventura County biotech company plan to make a protein vital to many experimental cancer drugs and vaccines.

Medical researchers around the world buy the purified protein, called keyhole limpet hemocyanin, to develop these drugs. The protein is found in the blood of an obscure marine snail called the giant keyhole limpet.

To provide an additional source, Ostiones Guerrero SA de CV in Baja California, has teamed up with Stellar Biotechnologies of Port Hueneme.

If U.S. regulatory approvals are obtained, and an on-site suitability study is successful, the partners will grow the giant keyhole limpets in an aquaculture farm at La Chorera, a small, isolated fishing community on the Pacific Ocean west of San Quintín and about 180 miles south of San Diego.

It will take about three years to get enough data from the aquaculture project to satisfy drug regulators in the United States and other countries that the protein meets medical standards, said Frank Oakes, CEO of Stellar Biotechnologies.

An adult giant keyhole limpet at Stellar Biotechnologies' aquaculture facility. They require 5 years to fully mature. The KLH protein can be extracted 3 times a year.— Stellar Biotechnologies
Keyhole limpet hemocyanin stimulates the immune system and also transports attached molecules around the body. A drug made from the protein is sold in Korea, Argentina, Austria and the Netherlands to treat bladder cancer.

The protein is also used in drugs being tested against metastatic breast cancer, stage 3 melanoma, neuroblastoma, multiple myeloma and other cancers.

As more drugs using this protein advance in clinical trials, and especially when these drugs reach the market, demand is expected to grow.

However, giant keyhole limpets occur only along sections of the Pacific Coast stretching from Monterey to Baja California. And if the limpets in this area were to be damaged by disease or environmental stress, keyhole limpet hemocyanin could suddenly be in short supply.

While the companies are not disclosing financial details, it’s a major project, Oakes said.

“We will make significant capital investments in that aquaculture compound, which we think will create a tremendous asset for the state of Baja California, for Ostiones Guerrero, and for Stellar Biotechnologies,” Oakes said.

Last year, Ostiones Guerrero obtained several new permits to harvest a 38-square mile area along the Pacific Coast, that fronts its fishing operations at La Chorera, which includes an abalone farm. The permitted area is rich in sea life and encompasses a volcanic island about six miles offshore, San Martín Island.

“That rocky underwater terrain creates an ideal ecosystem for mollusks in general, including abalone, clams, sea snails, crabs, lobster, all different kinds of species,” said Ron Hoff, a California native who is technical director for Ostiones Guerrero.

The area is also a habitat for the giant keyhole limpet – megathura crenulata – a species that Ostiones Guerrero recently obtained a federal permit to harvest.

"The underwater rocks are literally covered with them,” Hoff said.

While Ostiones Guerrero’s commercial permit allows it to harvest 12 metric tons of keyhole limpet annually, the plan is to farm them onshore at La Chorera, “right next to an ecosystem where they’re naturally thriving,” Hoff said.

Stellar Biotechnologies has developed aquaculture methods it’s now using on land, and intends to use in the Ostiones partnership. Under the partnership, blood will regularly be harvested from cultivated keyhole limpets under a method Oakes says doesn’t harm the animals.

The partnership began after Ostiones Guerrero contacted Stellar.

At the request of the company’s owner, Reyes Guerrero Sandoval, Hoff said he began researching the species – and quickly realized the potential. His inquiries led him to contact the California company, known for producing the protein.

Apt partners

“It became obvious that we needed to work with these guys," Hoff said. "Immediately, they showed a lot of interest.”

“Frank Oakes brought his director of operations down, they went out, they dove, to see the keyhole limpets in the water. We immediately started working on putting a collaboration agreement together.”

Ostiones Guerrero has a commercial permit to take out 12 metric tons a year of giant keyhole limpets, Hoff said, but the plan is to farm them onshore. “The local conditions and are ideal for the giant keyhole limpets,” Hoff said. “It makes sense to put aquaculture facilities right next to an ecosystem where they’re naturally thriving.”

On Tuesday, Ostiones Guerrero and Stellar Technologies are scheduled to officially announce their agreement. The agreement “will set the direction for our two companies to begin working together to help Stellar expand their ability to produce KLH,” Hoff said. The method is an eco-friendly one, he said, “that should help guarantee the species’ long-term survival.”

The first step would involve a suitability study, Hoff said, and involve the construction of an onsite power generation and seawater intake infrastructure at La Chorera, a small, relatively isolated fishing community located on the Pacific Ocean west of San Quintin. If that goes well, the partners would set out to built a limpet hatchery, a facilities where they would grow, a laboratory to extract the KLH and purification for export to pharmaceutical markets.”

Oakes said he became interested in KLH about 20 years ago, when approval of a bladder cancer drug was held up because the drug maker could not fully explain to federal regulators where the protein came from. He saw that drug companies needed a steady and reliable source of this protein.

Stellar Biotechnologies was the result. With federal and state grants, the company developed the aquaculture methods needed to grow the giant keyhole limpets, safely extract blood and process it to pharmaceutical specifications.

"We acquired oceanfront property from the U.S. Navy through base privatization, and built a small business that supports dozens of companies that are developing therapeutic vaccines," Oakes said.
Giant keyhole limpets can be considered the West Coast's reply to the horseshoe crab, another invertebrate that produces blood useful for medical research. However, horseshoe crabs reproduce prolifically, Oakes said, while the limpets grow slowly. That's why the ability to harvest limpet blood without harming them is so important. The animals can live decades if treated properly.

Ostiones provides "second site" security, Oakes said, so if anything puts one location out of production, the other site can continue unaffected.

"They have the rights to actually plant and farm animals on the ocean bottom," Oakes said. "They have a great site with very clean water ... and you know the difficulties in developing anything along the coastline in California."

Medical uses

The giant keyhole limpet is round, its single shell covered with dark purple flesh. It is related to and resembles abalone. Like abalone, it's edible. In the center of its shell is a breathing hole, thought to resemble a keyhole.

These limpets grow along the San Diego coastline. Their ability to grow in hyper-saline water was tested, along with that of other local sea life, as part of the approval process for the Poseidon desalination plant in Carlsbad.

Kim Janda, a scientist at The Scripps Research Institute, has used keyhole limpet hemocyanin, or KLH, to help research a heroin vaccine. He has since switched to another protein, inactivated tetanus toxin, but the cost is much greater.

One disadvantage of KLH is that it's a large protein, which can complicate its use, Janda said. For example, it can't be studied with a common method of analyzing molecules called mass spectrometry. And the giant keyhole limpet's rarity is a concern, he said.

Vaccine researchers value the hemocyanin from giant keyhole limpets because it stimulates the immune system and at the same time easily carries antigens, molecules from the organism the vaccine is developed against, said John Cashman, founder of the Human BioMolecular Research Institute in San Diego. This makes it a highly efficient substance for use in making antibodies.

"We've made antibodies to cocaine, we made antibodies to organophosphates for detection of nerve agents," Cashman said.

Because the protein is so large and complex, it can't be synthesized in the laboratory. So the protein is largely collected the old-fashioned way, by divers who bring in the limpets.

Keyhole limpet hemocyanin is the oxygen-carrying protein in the animal’s blood, called hemolymph. Unlike hemoglobin, which uses iron to hold oxygen, hemocyanin uses copper. And while the hemoglobin protein of vertebrates is contained in cells, the copper-containing hemocyanin protein circulates free in the hemolymph.

In the presence of oxygen, the hemolymph turns an intense blue, becoming colorless after releasing the oxygen.

Cashman said he's been concerned because the sources of KLH are so limited."If you opened up a new source that could make clinical grade KLH, that would be a real boon to the industry."

Article written by Sandra Dibble & Bradley Fikes, San Diego Union Tribune

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Rustic meets refined in Mexico's blossoming wine region...

Alexis Korman, USA TODAY Travel's Go Escape 8:02 a.m. EDT July 11, 2015

Forget Sonoma: North America's trendiest wine region is located south of the border. The burgeoning region between the Baja California town of Tecate south to Ensenada boasts brand-new wine-tasting rooms, striking natural landscapes, unique boutique hotels and boundary-pushing restaurants. So, why haven't you ever heard of it?

Mexico has been making wine for centuries, but Baja's Mediterranean-esque wine country, the fertile Valle de Guadalupe, has been flying blissfully under the radar of most oenophiles. All that is about to change. With bottles labeled "Baja" popping up on wine lists at the hottest restaurants in Mexico City and San Diego, the Valle de Guadalupe is poised to make a serious splash.

Now's the time to pack your corkscrew and go. You'll find most wineries conveniently located off Route 3 (Carretera Federal 3) in the Valle de Guadalupe, just 10 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean and about 2 hours by car south of San Diego. Fittingly, it's known as "La Ruta del Vino."


Casa de Piedra

Covered in bright bougainvillea and surrounded by vineyards, this unassuming stone farmhouse yields some big wines. Try the tempranillo and cabernet sauvignon blend known as Vino de Piedra, or the Piedra del Sol (it's 100 percent chardonnay). Visitors should call or email to make an appointment for a tour and tasting.

The Adobe Guadalupe bed and breakfast and vineyard encourages guests to connect with nature through horseback riding and a walk through the gardens. (Photo: Edgar Lima Garrido)

Adobe Guadalupe Vineyards & Inn

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful winery in Baja; more than 60 acres are planted to vine, the modern tasting room serves up striking mountain views and the six-room Persian-inspired inn is surrounded by lush gardens. The on-property stables offer horseback riding through the vineyards. Here, visitors can sip on bottlings named after the archangels, including the Gabriel, a vibrant blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and malbec.

Las Nubes Bodegas y Viñedos

Scenic views are par for the course at this vineyard. The owner, Victor Segura, was purportedly inspired by the film A Walk in the Clouds, and las nubes translates to "the clouds." When you sit on the winery's deck, it's easy to see the connection. You'll take in sweeping valley and sky views and taste red vinos named after cloud formations.

Corazon de Tierra

Since the name means "heart of the land," expect to find the freshest local, seasonal produce on your plate (ingredients are often pulled from the property or within a few miles' radius). Dishes are creative treats, such as black cod sprinkled with onion embers drizzled in a lemon verbena sauce, with local wine pairings to match — all in a hypermodern setting created from recycled materials.

The open-air kitchen and dining room at Finca Altozano have a laid-back feel. The menu's flavorful, minimalist dishes perfectly match the setting. (Photo: Jason Thomas Fritz)

Finca Altozano

Want to eat under the stars? Head to this unique, open-air eatery to experience a menu of modern grilled meats, including juicy lamb and beef ribs, alongside craft beer and Baja wines in one of the Valley's prettiest outdoor settings.

Malva Cocina de Baja California

Rustic wood tables and a graffiti wall make this alfresco winery restaurant feel modern (it's located at the winery Mina Penelope). Here, Chef Roberto Olcocer whips up homemade dishes depending on what he can grow or pick that day. The lamb is sourced from the property's own herd. This is farm-to-table dining, Mexican style.


Hotel Boutique Valle de Guadalupe

This colorful, 21-room boutique hotel offers guests a lively on-site restaurant and pool. From here, it takes just a few minutes to drive along dusty, bumpy roads to wineries such as Adobe Guadalupe, Barón Balch'e and Vinicola Torres Alegre y Familia.

Modern lines in a dreamy landscape helps the Encuentro Guadalupe eco-resort stand out. (Photo: Anthony Bacigalupo)
Encuentro Antiresort

Hyper-modern, unique, minimalist — all apt terms to describe these box-like cabins with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the heart of an ecological reserve deep in central Guadalupe Valley. On weekends, the property hosts a market with locally made goods such as jams and olive oil that make perfect gifts, in case your bags are already stuffed with Baja's best bottles.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Ocean temperatures increasing as new storm threat builds SE of Los Cabos...

The National Hurricane Center is advising that a new storm system is building off Southern Mexico with early models targeting the southern tip of the Baja peninsula in its projected path. What makes this news more troubling is that the seawater temperatures off Cabo San Lucas have been increasing the past few weeks, much higher than normal fr this time of the year. Residents and visitors to southern baja should remain informed of the news and pay close attention to any alerts issued.

From the NHC:
Showers and thunderstorms associated with a low pressure system located about 400 miles south-southeast of Acapulco Mexico continue to become better organized. Environmental conditions are expected to be conducive for continued development, and this system will likely become a tropical depression during the next day or two while it moves generally west-northwestward to northwestward. Interests along the southern and southwestern coasts of Mexico should monitor the progress of this system.

* Formation chance through 48 hours...high...80 percent
* Formation chance through 5 days...high...90 percent

5:33 PM PDT 7/10/2015

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Why foreign retirees are flocking to Mexico

In Mexico, seniors are traditionally cared for in the homes of relatives. But a boom of foreign retirees, many of them Americans, have begun moving to Mexico to live out their years, paying much less for independent and assisted living than in other countries.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Cabo San Lucas Fishing Report

Capt. Jerry Chapman
July 5, 2015
Cabo San Lucas - Saltwater Fishing Report

Jc Sportfishing Weekly Fish Report. 
As the Admiral Seas It 
Fishing Report: 6/29/15 to 7/6/15 
Stop By Our Office for up to Date Fishing Report. 
525lb Blue Marlin Landed this Week! 
300lb Black Marlin Reeled in! 
Pretty Windy Last Week? 
Tuna Fishing Good at Doughnut? 
JC says: "Yes, I do Dance. What about it?" 
Fish Report Boy: Haven't Stole JC,s Recipes! 
Wahoo a Few, a 45 Pounder Caught! 
JC,s Grilled Lobster Tails Inside!! 
JC,s Baja Lobster Tempura Info!! 
JC,s Most Famous Recipes Missing!!

HEADLINES: July 6, 2015: 
It has been reported that JC has taken out a $1,000,000,000 dollar insurance policy with Lloyds of Cabo on his recipes. Lloyds of Cabo? Seems some of JC,s prized recipes have been swiped from the vault in his office. Fish Report Boy was seen in the area after returning from Buena Vista and his Salsa Dance class, but there is no proof to indicate fish report boy on these charges. Local police report JC lost some of his most famous recipes and a couple of his Blue Bonnet Ribbons he won at the Kentucky state fair for Hog calling and his famous Apple Butter recipe. Luckily they didn't get all his recipes so he still has enough for his Ebook coming out called "As the Admiral Seas it, Recipes From my Heart". JC Barked: If I get my hands on that fish report boy I will…………………..". Fish Report Boy: What JC: "bring it on, ill box with you"

Jc Sportfishing Charters is a family owned and operated business and has been fishing in Cabo San Lucas for the past 18 years. Jerry, explains that his charter business is geared more for families and novice anglers, making sure everyone who charters a boat with him have a great time and lots of fun. We welcome families, and groups. We want everyone who fishes with us to take all the sites in and have a memorable experience. This is what is most important to us. We have and do a few tournaments each year and can cater to fisherman who might be interested in tournament fishing. Well lets get on with the fishing report for this past week.

WEATHER: Windy most of the week and even a little rain, nothing to speak of but a trace. Although it has been blowing in the afternoons and evenings and we have had some pretty pleasant nights with a cool breeze. The highs have been close to 100 degrees with lows in the 70,s. 

WATER: Still about the same as last week. There is a huge difference in the water temperatures on the East Cape compared to closer to Cabo on the Pacific side where there is like a 10 degree difference in water. East Cape some areas are 84 degrees and here close to Cabo on the Pacific it is 74 degrees and colder in some spots, so quite the contrast and this will affect the fishing in both areas as we will be catching something completely different from them boys on the East Cape. 

BILLFISH: A 525lb Blue Marlin was caught this week and to top it off another 300lb Black Marlin was landed also, so it has been a decent week for Striped Marlin and basically all Marlin species here in Los Cabos. Most fish have been caught on live bait, lures or slow trolling small Tuna. It has been an active and productive week for Marlin all week with good numbers of fish being caught and released. 

DORADO: Very slow for Dorado over this past week with just a few being boated. Water temperatures this year have been playing a major part in what we have been seeing and it isn't too much so far. If the USA would stop buying illegal fish caught in Mexico that would help a lot as it is not legal to net Dorado in Mexico because it is a sportfishing and not listed as a commercial species. It seems as long as there are buyers then this will continue to happen and it seems the authorities just look the other way since they are getting their cut. 

SWORDFISH: Havent heard of any caught this week.

WAHOO: A few being landed down towards Gordo Banks. 

TUNA: Last week was really good with some large Tuna being caught and this week has been good also, up and around the doughnut it has been hot using king busters and cedar plugs with some of the bigger fish being landed with live bait and some have been up over the 100lb mark this week. 
INSHORE: Jack Crevell being landed around the Light House in numbers. The pangas have been doing well with Roosters with some nice ones being landed and ranging from 15lb to 40lbThe Rooster fishing has been going off up and around the Light House on the pacific.Pangas are having a pretty rough ride this week on the pacific side, but for the hardcore fisherman they love that stuff.