Toxins from animals in the oceans can be useful for developing new drugs
Extremely old organisms live in the oceans. Because of the poison they contain, they have survived for thousands of years. These poisons (for example, anesthetics from fish, sharks, snails and the like) can be a useful source of new medicines for mankind and help man in the fight against viruses, bacteria and tumors.
Pharmacists are also searching for new medicines in the dark depths of the ocean. Fish and shells are collected at a depth of one thousand and more meters in the oceans. More than 10,000 substances of marine origin are being researched. About 200 substances are already protected. About 20 substances (derived from marine organisms) are already being tested on humans. That is why the depths of the sea are a source of new effective medicines.
The idea of searching for healthy molecules from the depths of the sea is more recent. The mainland has long been explored. That’s why pharmacists started researching the deep sea expanses that occupy about 70% of the earth’s surface.
Pharmacists believe that algae have substances to stop the growth of tumor cells
- Algae – for example, diatoms or diatoms have substances that are not found on land. Algae use these substances in the fight against enemies. With the help of a defense mechanism, they control the reproduction of enemies. Female crabs are very fond of eating algae. When female crabs feed on diatom algae, they also eat molecules that stop their cell division and thus reduce egg development by as much as 90%. Scientists, on the other hand, investigate these molecules in detail in laboratories. The molecules may also be able to stop the growth of tumor cells.
- Yondelis – a powerful anti-cancer drug could become yondelis (a special substance hidden in the membranous sheath of organisms that live among the roots of mangroves). A team of doctors from the Italian Cancer Institute collaborated with the Oncology Department of the “Mario Negri” Institute from Milan. This team of experts is investigating the effect of this substance on soft tissue sarcoma.
- Microorganisms – special microorganisms that have reached the level of development between bacteria and fungi – living on land and in water – are also being researched. As many as 2/3 of all existing antibiotics originated from their terrestrial variant. These microorganisms also live in the oceans. Researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography from California have the idea to look for these microorganisms in the deep sea and check whether obtaining even stronger antibiotics is possible using these microorganisms. It usually happens that experts searching for a drug discover a completely new drug. Thus, experts found that a special type of microorganism (salinospora) could be used to cure colon cancer and some other forms of lung and breast cancer.
- A special soft sponge from the Caribbean Sea is a medicine – the first medicine from the depths of the sea was a medicine against viruses. A few years ago, this drug appeared on the market. It is obtained from a particularly soft sponge (Cryptotethya crypta) from the Caribbean Sea. The so-called “vidarabine” is one of the most widely used drugs against numerous viruses (among which the most famous are Herpes simplex and Herpes zoster).
- Fish poison as an anesthetic – Some studies confirm that the poison saxitoxin (which some fish have in large quantities) could be used in anesthesia. It is believed that the poison saxitoxin used in very small quantities increases the effect of some anesthetics. This can reduce anesthetic doses and unwanted anesthetic effects.
- A substance from a mollusk against chronic pain – scientists have found a very active substance against chronic pain in one mollusc (which is already used in pain therapies). This substance is called ziconotide. It was found in a sea snail with beautiful colorful colors. This type of snail lives on the coast of the Philippines. The shell of this snail has long been considered one of the most beautiful trophies. This snail is extremely poisonous. It hunts its victims with a special barb that it uses as a needle to inject a bilious liquid (multiple toxic to large fish). The medicinal substance is found in this liquid.
- Sharks – the cartilage of sharks is similar to the cartilage of mammals, it eats the blood vessels of the cancer, which then “starves” to death. There is a substance in the liver of sharks that slows down the growth of blood vessels. This substance could be used in treatment. A substance called squalamine helps improve vision in people with degenerative macular degeneration (a rare eye disease).