Story and quotes courtesy of Ocean Today NOAA
NOAA scientists have been collecting and studying sponges, corals, and other marine organisms. They and their partners discovered a chemical that breaks down the shield that bacteria use to protect themselves from antibiotics. Used as a helper drug, antibiotics that are no longer effective would once again be able to fight off these resistant bacteria.
NOAA scientists have also extracted chemicals from corals and sponges that fight some of the worst infectious bacteria. In order to make these new antibiotics, scientists make copies of these chemicals in a laboratory. This way they won’t have to constantly harvest corals from the ocean, leaving our marine ecosystems healthy and intact.
The ocean may hold the key for finding new medicines, but not if we don’t keep it – and everything that lives there – healthy and pollution free. Two marine-derived drugs are already in use — an anti-tumor medication derived from sea squirts and a painkiller from a cone snail. More than a dozen drugs are in clinical trials, including ones to treat Alzheimers and lung cancer.