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Coral Reefs in Pharmaceuticals

An investigation into the prospect of using coral reefs as a source of modern medicine.
by

Reese Caldwell

on 27 January 2014

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Transcript of Coral Reefs in Pharmaceuticals

In Short: Yes
Over half of today's medicine comes from the sea
Much of the ocean is unexplored - there could be undiscovered organisms that contain very useful compounds
It is 300 to 400 times more likely to find medicine in the sea than on land
Coral reefs support some of the most diverse ecosystems on earth
On top of that, coral skeletons can help heal people with serious bone injuries
Already Discovered Compounds
Although bioprospecting in coral reefs is relatively new in modern science, there are a few medicines that originate from coral reefs already on the market.
Bone Grafts
So what are coral reefs good for?
One day, a coral reef might just save your life. Whether it's in the form of an antiviral drug, an anti-cancer drug, or a bone graft, coral reefs are beginning to play a huge role in keeping humans healthy.
Reese Caldwell
Vidarabine (Ara-A)
Vidarabine is a natural antiviral drug that was isolated from the Caribbean sponge Tethya crypta. It is used for the treatment of viruses such as herpes simplex and varicella zoster . The way it works is by interfering with the replication of virus DNA. It has a chemical formula of C H N O
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Cytarabine (Ara-C)
Cytarabine (Ara-C) is a chemotherapy medicine developed to treat cancers of the white blood cells, such as acute myeloid leukemia and non- Hodgkin lymphoma. It was also developed from a Carribean sponge found in coral reefs. It works by damaging the DNA of the cancer cells when the DNA is replicating. The chemical formula for Cytarabine is C H N O
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Trabectedin
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Although Trabectedin is not fully cleared for use in America, it is cleared for use in Europe, Russia, and South Korea. It is an anti-tumor drug that was developed from the sea squirt Ecteinascidia turbinata. Sea squirts are small animals that live on coral reefs and get nutrients through filtering water. Trabectedin is used for the treatment of soft-tissue sarcomas (a type of tumor) and ovarian cancer. The chemical formula for Trabectedin is C H N O S
Are coral reefs the future of pharmaceuticals?
Bone grafts are bone implants
They are generally made of human bone or synthetic material
Coral skeletons have long been used in some parts of the body
New studies have shown that a new technique can be used to create fully biodegradable bone grafts
Full transcript