1 Tahrcountry Musings: New Drugs from the Sea

Friday, December 10, 2010

New Drugs from the Sea

Nature has given us lot of drugs from terrestrial vegetation. Now the sea promises to deliver new effective remedies for many of our health related problems. A sea snail has already formed the basis of a new painkiller.

Scientists in UK believe that Starfish could be the key to potential new treatments for inflammatory conditions such as asthma and arthritis.

The scientists are working on spiny starfish (Marthasterias glacialis). What they are interested in is the slimy goo that covers its body.

 Dr Charlie Bavington, from GlycoMar, a marine biotechnology company based at the Scottish Association for Marine Science in Oban recently told BBC "Starfish live in the sea, and are bathed in a solution of bacteria, larvae, viruses and all sorts of things that are looking for somewhere to live. But starfish are better than Teflon: they have a very efficient anti-fouling surface that prevents things from sticking."

 It is this non-stick property that has fascinated the medical scientists, particularly in the field of inflammation.
Inflammation is the body's natural response to an injury or infection. Inflammatory conditions are caused when the immune system gets skewered. White blood cells, which normally flow easily through our blood vessels, begin to build up and stick to the blood vessel wall. This in turn causes tissue damage.

The researchers believe that starfish slime could effectively coat our blood vessels in the same way the goo covers the marine creature, and this offers a clue for drugs for inflammation.

The team is now working on creating suitable drugs in the laboratory.

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