Drugs from the Sea Essay

Medicinal drugs are a very important issue to many humans today. They are used to prevent diseases and to cure infected people. Unfortunately, many strands of bacteria are now becoming immune to many of our current vaccines, and we urgently need to find new sources of disease fighting entities. A marine biology based institution, by the name of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, located on the coast of California, in La Jolla, has realized that the ocean has many great opportunities for new medicines; it is just a matter of where we look.

A marine biologist, based at this institution, by the name of William Fenical, is the director of marine based vaccine research. His current research could lead to future vaccines for cancer and possibly even today’s incurable viruses. He explains that the days of being able to just wander a forest, take a dirt sample, and find a medicinal substance are over. Many of the past medicines, he says, are becoming obsolete. Many marine vaccines are currently in clinical trial and a few look like they could be successful in the near future.

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Ecteinascidin 743, for example is a marine-based drug, derived from a sea whip, Ecteinascidin turbinata, which has been proven in lab studies to be effective in fighting against human breast cancers and rodent leukemias. Bryostatin 1 is another promising cancer fighting drug. It is derived from the organism Bugula neritina, it has been quite potent in killing cancers of the blood during clinical trials. As you can see, the technology is there but there needs to be more research and funding to make the project worthwhile

Research like this could start a completely new era of super medicines, replacing the outdated medicines like penicillin. It would be beneficial to the whole world and researchers may even be able to prevent AIDS and other deadly viruses. More funding to this project could help speed up the process thus allowing for faster and more effective research. It is difficult to figure out where the best place is to look for these microorganisms, although biologists have limited their searches to warm, sub-tropical, or tropical waters, where marine life is more diverse. There may be other areas though, like the arctic, which may have beneficial substances for medicinal purposes, and we would not know unless more people are aware about the project and donate money to the cause.

Many on-land sources of medicinal products are either becoming rare or, bacteria have become immune to that substance, leaving us with only one option: look elsewhere. Although a few drugs are well on their way to becoming a reality in the near future, more knowledge, and funding would be beneficial. A few drugs have already shown success in clinical trials, and soon could be out on the market. It would be a shame to see a project like this fail since many new viruses are becoming parts of many peoples’ lives and unless we do something to change this, mankind could face serious problems in the future.

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