Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Scientists Search Deep Sea Reefs for Wonder Drugs

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the 2,000-leagues-from-now-captain dept.

144

ScienceDaily is reporting that a team of scientists will be venturing some 2000-3000 feet below the ocean surface in order to explore deep-sea reefs discovered last December. From the article: "A primary goal of the upcoming expedition, which is funded largely by the State of Florida's 'Florida Oceans Initiative,' will be to search for marine organisms that produce chemical compounds with the potential to treat human diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's."

cancel ×

144 comments

Curse of the Blue Gold (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386232)

First off, this isn't really 'news' as it is an alarm. When a new coral reef is discovered, we aren't sending people to look for new species or attempting to preserve it ... instead we're sending people to take samples to see if we can benefit medically from the reef.

Modern man has an impeccable record for destroying the natural environment that produces his fruits & resources. Then we sit and bitch about how it went away. Reefs are probably going to be no different. They're harder to get at, but if the run-off doesn't destroy them, I'm sure our medical companies will [eurekalert.org] .

There's a report [unu.edu] written by the UN University that details the problems being raised by this treasure of "blue gold."
Significantly, the ratio of potentially useful natural compounds to compounds screened is higher in marinesourced materials than with terrestrial organisms. There is, therefore, a higher probability of commercial success. Potential applications for marine organisms include: pharmaceuticals; enzymes; cryoprotectants; cosmaceuticals; agrichemicals; bioremediators; nutraceuticals; and fine chemicals. All the major pharmaceutical firms, including Merck, Lilly, Pfizer, Hoffman-Laroche and Bristol-Myers Squibb, have marine biology departments. Estimates put worldwide sales of marine biotechnology-related products at US$ 100 billion for the year 2000. Profits from a compound derived from a sea sponge to treat herpes were estimated to be worth US$ 50 million to US$ 100 million annually, and estimates of the value of anti-cancer agents from marine organisms are up to US$ 1 billion a year.
One of the interesting sources it cites is Blue Genes: Sharing and Conserving the World's Aquatic Biodiversity [www.idrc.ca] (another interesting document on the global problem of sharing the world's oceans).

Hypothetical scenario time! So, Pfizer's scientists find that a fairly common sponge produces a natural chemical that slows the growth of cancer. Unfortunately, each sponge only produces an ounce of this chemical when refined and there is no way to naturally synthesize it on a mass scale. Pfizer tries to buy the rights to harvest the sponge at a restricted rate in Florida. But they have to get permits from the local, state & federal governments and it costs them a lot of money because they send people down to the reef to hand pick the sponges. Instead, they find a supplier in a third world country (possibly around Indonesia) that promises them mass quantities of the sponge at a reduced rate. Now, the government there forbids it too but an official receives a large sum from this company and suddenly Pfizer has got incoming shipments of the sponge. The problem is that the company working for Pfizer is doing so with total blatant disregard for the ecosystem & probably its workers.

A farfetched scenario? Or something that's happened so often in the past, we'd be naïve to imagine it to stop here?

Re:Curse of the Blue Gold (1, Flamebait)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386270)

Any chemical that can be synthesized biologically should be perfectly capable of being synthesized in-vitro. Any protein can be cloned and synthesized en masse. This scenario isn't very realistic, and smacks of ultra-enviromentalist garbage... like anti-GM-crop people.

Re:Curse of the Blue Gold (2, Interesting)

Hamilton Publius (909539) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386314)

"Oceans lash our coasts. Deserts Burn. The sky provides no shelter. Turmoil of Biblical proportions threatens not just our weather but life itself. Global Warming is upon us."

Those words aren't from the preview trailer of the silly, overblown, over dramatic film, "Day After Tomorrow" that invaded movie theaters a few years ago. And they aren't just carefully selected "scare" words developed from a sweep through a thesaurus. These are the opening words to yet another hysterical diatribe passing as news these days on the subject of Global Warming. This particularly silly one greeted readers of a recent issue of Playboy Magazine. The article was, of course, accompanied by the obligatory pictures of smokes stacks belching over a city and the melting of ice burgs.

You hear it everywhere. Global Warming is a fact. It is here. It is now unstoppable. The Polar Ice Cap is melting. Polar Bears are endangered. Greenland is actually turning green! Hurricanes are blowing with more force. Tornadoes are growing in numbers. Water levels are increasing, threatening to flood New York City. Human existence is threatened. And, of course, the deserts are starting to burn. We are assured that scientists are in near total agreement with the assessment.

The media is in a frenzy, rushing to report the latest news release from special interest groups with the latest report or prediction. Al Gore is rushing his hi tech docudrama to the theaters to whip up more frenzy. Corporations are being forced to turn "green" to show their "corporate social responsibility" in the wake of the coming disaster.

Global Warming has become a euphemism for a political agenda. It has become a religion run by fanatics reminiscent of the leaders of the darkest days of the Inquisition that nearly destroyed civil society only a few hundred years ago. We are not to question the great god of Global Warming. Those who do are separated from civil society and labeled as heretics.

So how can anyone question the decrees handed down from the Ivory Towers to the unwashed masses? Answer: every religion has its heretics.

The simple truth is there is no scientific consensus on Global Warming. In fact, as the media frenzy screams global warming, there are a growing number of scientists who are expressing their doubts.

In 1992, just prior to the UN's Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, 425 scientists and other intellectual leaders signed The Heidelberg Appeal, a quiet call for reason in dealing with the climate change issue. Neither a statement or corporate interests, nor a denial of environmental problems, the Heidelberg Appeal expresses a conviction that modern society is the best equipped in human history to solve the world's ills, provided that they do not sacrifice science, intellectual honesty and common sense to political opportunism and irrational fears. Today, the Heidelberg Appeal has been signed by more than 4,000 scientists and leaders from 100 countries, including more than 70 Nobel Prize winners.

Also in 1992, another statement from some 47 atmospheric scientists was issued saying "such policies (greenhouse global warming theories) derive from highly uncertain scientific theories. The statement cited a survey of atmospheric scientists, conducted in the summer of 1991, "confirms that there is no consensus about the cause of the slight warming observed during the past century." The statement went on to say, "We are disturbed that activists, anxious to stop energy and economic growth, are pushing ahead with drastic policies without taking notice of recent changes in the underlying science."

In 1995, over 85 scientists and climate experts from research labs and universities worldwide, signed the Leipzig Declaration in answer to the International Symposium on the Greenhouse Controversy, held in Leipzig, Germany that year. In part, the Declaration says; "In a world in which poverty is the greatest social pollutant, any restriction on energy use that inhibits economic growth should be viewed with caution. For these reasons, we consider 'carbon taxes' and other drastic control policies - lacking credible support from the underlying science - to be ill-advised, premature, wrought with economic danger, and likely to be counterproductive."

In 1997, a Gallop Poll of eminent North American climatologists shows that 83% did not support the claims of the green house theory of Global Warming.

In 1998, The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM) issued a petition for signature by atmospheric scientists saying there is no scientific evidence indicating that greenhouse gases cause global warming. That petition was signed by more than 17,000 scientists and leaders involved in the issue.

Global Warming scaremongers have tried to discredit these statements from the opposition, saying either they are too old to be counted in today's debate or that they weren't signed by real scientists. Neither is true. One only has to look at the signers on the documents and statements to know who and what they are. The relevance of the documents can be answered in two ways. First, most of the signers of these documents from the 1990's hold the same positions today. Second, as is the fallacy in the Global Warming debate, such drastic climate changes, as described in the scaremongers diatribes, would not come about overnight. Though the proponents would have you believe otherwise, 15 years is but a microsecond in the study of the earth's activities.

However, there is great question about the validity of the documents promoted by the Global Warming crowd. There is strong, documented evidence to show they care little about sound science and facts and much more about their political agenda.

For example, in May of 1996, unannounced and possibly unauthorized changes to the United Nation's report on climate change touched off a firestorm of controversy within the scientific community. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the science group that advises the United Nations on the global warming issue, presented a draft of its report in December 1995, and it was approved by the delegations. However, when the printed report appeared in May 1996, it was discovered that substantial changes and deletions had been made to the body of the report to make it conform to the Policymakers Summery. Specifically, two key paragraphs written by the scientists were deleted. They said:

1. "None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed climate changes to increases in greenhouse gases."

2. "No study to date had positively attributed all or part of the climate change to ...man-made causes."

That was not the last time data has been manipulated by the IPCC to fit its political agenda. In 2005, a federal hurricane research scientist named Chris Landsea resigned from the UN-sponsored IPCC climate assessment team because his group's leader had politicized the process. Landsea said in his resignation letter, "It is beyond me why my colleagues would utilize the media to push an unsupported agenda that recent hurricane activity had been due to global warming." He went onto say, "I personally cannot in good faith contribute to a process that I view as being both motivated by pre-conceived agendas and being scientifically unsound."

In 2006, the voices of reason are speaking out louder than ever. Professor Bob Carter, a geologist at James Cook University, Queensland, Australia, says the global warming theory is neither environmental or scientific, but rather, "a self-created political fiasco." Carter explains that "Climate changes occur naturally all the time, partly in predicable cycles and partly in unpredictable cycles."

Meanwhile, more than 60 leading international climate change experts have gone on record to urge Canada's new Prime Minster to carefully review global warming policies, warning that '"Climate change is real' is a meaningless phrase used repeatedly by activists to convince the public that a climate catastrophe is looming and humanity is the cause."

In April, 2006, using temperature readings from the past 100 years, 1,000 computer simulations and the evidence left in ancient tree rings, Duke University scientists announced that "the magnitude of future global warming will likely fall well short of current highest predictions." The study was supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. Gabriele Hegerl of Duke's Nicholas Schools of the Environment and Earth Sciences said her study discounts dire predictions of skyrocketing temperatures.

In 2004 the Heartland Institute published a report by Dr. Richard Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Dr. Lindzen reported that global warming is unlikely to be a dangerous future problem, with or without the implementation of such programs as the Kyoto Protocol. Lindzen, a member of the IPCC and one of the world's leading climatologists, said that alarmist media claims to the contrary are fueled more by politics than by science.

Said Dr. Lindzen, "With respect to science, consensus is often simply a sop to scientific illiteracy. After all, if what you are told is alleged to be supported by all scientists, then why do you have to bother to understand it? You can simply go back to treating it as a matter of religious belief, and you never have to defend this belief except to claim that you are supported by all scientists except for a handful of corrupted heretics."

So why, if scientists are researching the issue and if there is no consensus that global warming is a reality, is this voice not being heard? Why is a near panic building in the news media, on Capitol Hill and in research labs across the nation and in the international community?

Answer: fear and money.

Simply put, scientists know where the grants will come from to pay their salaries. Dr. Patrick Michaels, a leading opponent to the global warming scaremongers, calls it the federal/science paradigm. He describes it this way: Tax $ = Grants = Positive Feedback Loop to Get more Grants.

Says Dr. Michaels, "What worker bee scientist is going to write a proposal saying that global warming is exaggerated and he doesn't need the money? Certainly no one wanting advancement in the agency! There is no alternative to this process when paradigms compete with each other for finite funding." The only ones who can openly oppose the party line of the day are those who don't need the grants or who have some other source of funding. There aren't many.

The money is in global warming because it's being pushed by a political agenda that wants power. Power in Washington. Power on the international stage. Power over economic development. Power over international monetary decisions. Power over energy. In short, power over the motor of the world. It's driven by literally thousands of large and small non-governmental organizations (NGOs) sanctioned by the United Nations, and implemented by a horde of bureaucrats, university academics and an ignorant but pliable news media.

Case in point. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) used to publish the journal Science. Since 2000, it has published roughly 75 commentaries which have supported the idea that global warming is a serious problem requiring massive solutions. Now, the AAAS acts as a massive lobbying operation pushing this agenda. Taxpayers have now provided $20 billion into the scientific community for global warming work.

Moreover, Science and its British counterpart Nature won't publish articles to the contrary of the agenda. If a scientist wants the prestige of being published, then he must carry the global warming banner.

According to Dr. Michaels, this is how it works: "They take a little truth and distort it or study it into a lot of revenue for them. Them = Academia + Environmental non governmental organizations + private scientific fields + Government + all the associated public and private organizations supporting this shell."

Concludes Dr. Michaels in his landmark book, Meltdown, "This junk science works for the fish movement, smart growth, sustaining development, rapid transit, wet lands, critical areas, water rights, property rights, fossil fuels, logging, justifying huge government and environmental land wildlife corridor buy ups with public money, changing regulatory laws, changing high court opinions, escalating enforcement codes, on and on." It's all thrown into the offering plate as the taxpayer sits in the pew of the Church of Global Warming.

Federal spending on climate research has ballooned since the early 1990's from a few hundred million dollars to $1.7 billion today. As Dr. Michaels points out, scientists who don't toe the party line don't share in that bounty.

Blasphemy or not, here's the truth about Global Warming.

As reported by Dr. Lindzen, "The global mean temperature is never constant, and it has no choice but to increase or decrease - both of which it does on all known time scales. That this quantity has increased about 0.6 degrees C (or about 1 degree F) over the past century is likely. A relevant question is whether this is anything to worry about."

Professor Bob Carter says the pubic has been brainwashed by politicians and bureaucrats into believing world industrialization has created "climate change" that will lead to widespread disaster. However, he shows that a period of similar warming occurred between 1918 and 1940 before industrialization really began, followed by a cooling between 1940 and 1965, a period during which human-caused emissions were accelerating.

In fact, looking deeper into history reveals that global warming and cooling are simply a regular occurrence. According to Robert Essenhigh, Professor of energy conservation at Ohio State University, the ice sheets at the poles have been melting since the early 1900's and the Earth's warming had begun about the middle 1600s.

That warming trend followed a 300 - 400 year cooling period, commonly known as the Little Ice Age, which came after the much hotter Medieval Warm Period, running roughly A.D.900 to 1300. During that period, the Vikings had two settlements on the west coast of Greenland. The settlements vanished with the onset of the Little Ice Age. This is the same area global warming scare mongers are panicked over because some grass is now growing there. In fact, history shows such growth is nothing new.

We are told, however that man-made carbon dioxide is the source of the global warming problem. As Professor Essenhigh asks, "what has carbon dioxide to do with this"?

He explains, "the two principled thermal-absorbing and thermal-emitting compounds in the atmosphere are water and carbon dioxide. However - and this point is continually missed - the ratio of water to carbon dioxide is something like 30-to-1 as an average value. At the top it is something like 100-to-1. This means that the carbon dioxide is simply 'noise' in the water concentration, and anything carbon dioxide could do, water has already done." "So," he asks, "if the carbon dioxide is increasing, is it the carbon dioxide driving the temperature or is the rising temperature driving up the carbon dioxide"? In other words, the carbon dioxide issue is irrelevant to the debate over global warming.

But what about all of those storms? We can see the weather changing before our eyes, we're told. We are experiencing death, destruction, plagues, extinction, biblical catastrophes at alarming rates. Any fool can see... Those reports simply show how effective the propaganda machine has been.

The truth about the hurricanes is that during the past 35 years, the average number of "significant" tropical cyclones in the southern regions, including the Pacific Ocean and the Southern Indian Ocean, is about 28.5 storms per year. The breakdown by decade is: 1970s - 32.9; 1980s- 27.8; 1990s - 29.1; and the 2000s, so far - 25.0 It is interesting to note that so far in the 2000s the numbers are actually below average. Even if one calculates just the last ten years it only amounts to 28.5 - well within the average.

The fact is, researchers are now looking into Hurricane Katrina to determine its true strength. It is currently listed as a category 4 storm. But will probably be downgraded to a category 3. It is important to remember that the disaster of New Orleans was a result of Slashdot lemmings not taking care of the levies. There was relatively little actual hurricane damage.

Ice is melting on the edge of the caps because it always melts in the summer. But research shows that the core of the ice is actually thicker than ever. And the burning deserts? Well, that's what deserts do, isn't it?

It's easy to distort the facts when you start from the premise that global warming is a fact and then one must only gather details to support the premise. It's easy to find film footage of natural occurrences like melting ice and beached whales and then put your own caption on it -- especially when you are armed with millions of dollars in grant money and an impressive title to go with it. A published report in a prestigious magazine accompanied by a news story in a major news paper will lead to speeches in front of a gathering of ones peers and on to a book deal. It's good to go along to get along.

So look out this summer. The Global Warming machine will be in full charge mode as Al Gore invades theaters with his new documentary entitled "An Inconvenient Truth." The primal panic will reach a deafening scream, sure to drown out the voice of reason and truth. The one that says there is no global warming!

Re:Curse of the Blue Gold (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15386551)

Nice troll. Where's it plagiarised from?

State of Fear? (1)

CrazedWalrus (901897) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386591)

I read State of Fear (Michael Crighton) a while ago. Good book. I don't remember it word for word, obviously, but it seems like it fits.

Agree with Crighton or not, he cites his sources in the book, which is more than I can say for most of the GW scaremongering I've ever seen. Usually it's just "[experts|scientists] [say|warn]", which bothers the shit out of me.

Re:Curse of the Blue Gold (1, Offtopic)

jocknerd (29758) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386672)

The CEO of Shell Oil was on the Today Show this morning, and he even admits that global warming is real and its here. Frankly, I was a bit surprised. I figured that he would have the same opinion as President Bush which is more studies need to be done. He said the discussion should be over. Scientific evidence is overwhelming. And we need to do something about it.

Re:Curse of the Blue Gold (1)

onepoint (301486) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386755)

>>The CEO of Shell Oil was on the Today Show this morning, and he even admits that global warming is real and its here

this should be referenced to a web site where others can find it.

I am very glad to here that an oil company exec. is willing to commit to the thinking that the global warming issue is real. if anything, this might guild funds to better long term resource usages.

Onepoint

Re:Curse of the Blue Gold (1)

Dr. GeneMachine (720233) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386894)

And what exactly is your agenda, spamming this completely off-topic drivel here?

If Mother Nature Keeps Fucking Us... (2, Insightful)

enjahova (812395) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386996)

We better fuck her back!

"Oceans lash our coasts. Deserts Burn. The sky provides no shelter. Turmoil of Biblical proportions threatens not just our weather but life itself."

Don't those sound like great reasons to fight back? :)

In all seriousness I feel totally out of the loop on global warming, but Al Gore's scaremongering movie makes me think the current attitude is exaggerated. I believe that there is truth to global warming, but I am starting to disbelieve anything that threatens impending doom (this includes terrorism).

Every generation thinks theirs is the last, why should ours be any different?

Re:Curse of the Blue Gold (2, Informative)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387224)

If you're going to rip-off an article the least you can do is provide a link to it.
http://magic-city-news.com/article_5888.shtml [magic-city-news.com]

All this in light of yesterdays article about plagerism [slashdot.org] .

Re:Curse of the Blue Gold (3, Informative)

fain0v (257098) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386345)

Even if you could sythesize anything that nature can make, there isnt enough matter in the universe to make every small molecule that might be of interest to medicinal chemists. So how do you screen out the useless molecules and find ones that might have an effect on a druggable target? You use millions of years of evolution to your advantage and isolate compounds made by organisms. These "natural products" can be used to do high-throughput screening on your drug target.

Here is a lab that does this.
http://www.umich.edu/~lsi/institute/labs/sherman/s ponge.html [umich.edu]

Re:Curse of the Blue Gold (3, Informative)

archeopterix (594938) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386618)

Any chemical that can be synthesized biologically should be perfectly capable of being synthesized in-vitro.
Synthesized in-vitro? Perhaps.

Synthesized in-vitro on a commercial scale? Look at Taxol [wikipedia.org] . It took over 20 years to design a commercially viable synthesis method.

Galanthamine? [wikipedia.org] To my knowledge, no commercially viable method exists.

Re:Curse of the Blue Gold (4, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386626)

"Any chemical that can be synthesized biologically should be perfectly capable of being synthesized in-vitro."

Should be != is. Particularly since development of the process for complex compunds can be extrmely expensive.

"Any protein can be cloned and synthesized en masse."

Protein folding is still a tricky business for a lot of proteins, and not necessarily reproducible in a lab. Plus, you've got to isolate the gene(s) responsible for the protein production, successfully insert them into bacteria or yeast to produce a viable colony, and then ferment them. By no means automatic. It's not a simple matter of 'cloning' a protein.

Cost is also a huge issue. As the GP alludes to, the availability of a cheap supply will often preclude synthetic production -- regardless of whether that supply is truly cheap in the long run (i.e., in his example, the public value of the reefs/natural sponges in the environment is not included in the cost equation for the drug company).

Sure, as the natural supply becomes more limited, it gets more expensive, and synthesis of the compound becomes an economically viable alternative for the company. But in the meanwhile, overharvesting of a natural resource can have pretty dire consequences.

Re:Curse of the Blue Gold (1)

John Newman (444192) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387700)

You've got to isolate the gene(s) responsible for the protein production, successfully insert them into bacteria or yeast to produce a viable colony, and then ferment them. By no means automatic. It's not a simple matter of 'cloning' a protein.
You just described the simple matter of "cloning", as it's used in the laboratory sense. It is, in fact, quite simple.

- A friendly neighborhood molecular biologist

Re:Curse of the Blue Gold (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387854)

Simple in theory, not always so in practice -- cloning of peptide sequences starts getting rough at around 30 peptides, IIRC -- though likely most drug products would be small. Also, we're looking at a commercial scale here. Plus the fact that proteins are a poor structure for most drugs, due to the delivery mechanism (IV or IM injection only, with rare exceptions), storage requirements, lability, etc.

So really, the bigger concern should be how to produce non-peptide drugs, which are not always so easy to synthesize.

Re:Curse of the Blue Gold (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386824)

Any chemical that can be synthesized biologically should be perfectly capable of being synthesized in-vitro. Any protein can be cloned and synthesized en masse. This scenario isn't very realistic, and smacks of ultra-enviromentalist garbage... like anti-GM-crop people.


This statement is categorically untrue. Tamiflu is made from an element of Chinese star anise. [wikipedia.org] Are you surprised by the fact that 90% of the Chinese star anise in the world is used to make Tamiflu? Imagine if Chinese star anise is rarer than it is.

Re:Curse of the Blue Gold (1)

John Newman (444192) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387788)

This statement is categorically untrue. Tamiflu is made from an element of Chinese star anise. Are you surprised by the fact that 90% of the Chinese star anise in the world is used to make Tamiflu? Imagine if Chinese star anise is rarer than it is.
The same Wikipedia article says that a complete synthesis protocol was developed this year. Like for Taxol, it took a while but proved possible. And happened much faster than Taxol, probably showing the effect of improving organic chemistry science and tools.

I find it surprising, though, that both syntheses came out of academic labs - not from the pharmaceutical companies that sell the drugs. You'd think they'd have enormous incentive, and more than enough resources, to do such work themselves. If they aren't interested in actually making drugs, what exactly is it that they do?

Curse of the casual link. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15386277)

"They're harder to get at, but if the run-off doesn't destroy them, I'm sure our medical companies will [eurekalert.org]."

Your link doesn't say that medical companies WILL destroy reefs, or even ARE. It warns about the problems of bioexploration, and it also says that most drug companies have a bioprospecting department. In other words, you should be writing slashdot summaries.

Re:Curse of the Blue Gold (2, Insightful)

Johnny5000 (451029) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386826)

The problem is that the company working for Pfizer is doing so with total blatant disregard for the ecosystem & probably its workers.

I'm the last person to make apologies for some company, but I'd like to think they're probably smart enough to not kill the golden goose. If they're making billions of dollars from reef extracts, it wouldn't do them any good to destroy the reef and lose that potential source of profits.

Of course, I could be wrong.. they could decide that they'll destroy the reef at a rate that will take 100 years (or 50, or 10) and decide that's a good window of time to make a huge profit, and by the time the reef is destroyed, they will have perfected an in-vitro method of production or been able to move onto the next wonder drug, or whatever.

Re:Curse of the Blue Gold (1)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386973)

I'd say that the reef would be destroyed at a rate calculated to coincide with patent expiration.

Re:Curse of the Blue Gold (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15387144)

And how can we forget the rapacious and wholesale destruction of the Penicillium chrysogenum mold for penicillin production before it became easy to synthesize in the late 1940's? Think of how many millions of spores were killed. Talk about trans-species genocide. Whew!

Seriously, if it's me or my loved ones or the guy at the 7-11 vs. a few sponges...no contest.
Mindles destruction of a natural resource helps no one. Ignoring a potential source of beneficient chemical compounds helps no one and harms many through inaction. Harvesting the fruits of said resource in a sustainable manner is beneficial to us.

Environmentalist fear & guilt mongering serves no purpose except to perpetuate the careers of those who serve as environmentalist fear and guilt distributors. Concern and care for the enviroment is a good thing and is essential to a healthy civilization. However, we also need to have concern and care for ourselves and strive to find a balance so that we may sstainably utilize the bounty of this planet's biosphere.

Re:Curse of the Blue Gold (2, Interesting)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387527)

Your entire fifth paragraph falls apart logically. Use the northwestern yew as an example. Extremely rare species which supplies a useful anticancer compound. Were they harvested to extinction? No. Were they replaced by other yews from around the world? No. Why? It is that species which has the compound. Your paragraph falls apart historically. Which, ironically, is the very rational you use to promote it. Odd, that.

Re:Curse of the Blue Gold (1)

lubricated (49106) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387715)

Actually usually the people going are going because they want to explore the stuff and usually are most interested in it's biology and how to preserve it. The whole medicine thing is how you get funding.

Wonder Drugs? (-1, Offtopic)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386240)

Scientists Search Deep Sea Reefs for Wonder Drugs

Sounds like the time I spent in Indonesia doing nothing but taking magic mushrooms & snorkling.

Oh no! Wait! That wasn't deep sea reefs!

Cancer (1, Informative)

PrivateDonut (802017) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386246)

Sorry, but cancer isn't a disease... its a mutation. You can't cure mutations, only give your body the ability to remove the mutated cells.

Re:Cancer (2, Informative)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386263)

but cancer isn't a disease... its a mutation.

Are you sure? Disease [reference.com] :
1. A pathological condition of a part, organ, or system of an organism resulting from various causes, such as infection, genetic defect, or environmental stress, and characterized by an identifiable group of signs or symptoms.

2. A condition or tendency, as of society, regarded as abnormal and harmful.

Re:Disease (1)

icebrain (944107) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386287)

Apparently, a lot of people tend to associate "disease" purely with illnesses directly caused by bacteria, virus, or protozoan...

Re:Cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15386349)

"2. A condition or tendency, as of society, regarded as abnormal and harmful."

Wonderful. Just as I have already demonstrated, your appearances here on a daily basis speak to some deep disturbance. Your definition agress that obsession with posting here is a disease.

Thanks for admitting that you're sick in the head. Maybe you'll get some help.

Re:Cancer (0)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386425)

Yo AC!

Nice to hear from you again!

I can tell that you're an anti-mac bigot, who's just trying to bait me. Why don't you get an account, log in & we can discuss your anti-mac agenda?

Re:Cancer (1)

GundamFan (848341) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386542)

WMF,

Take it down a notch man... He (or she) was likely just joking...

And yeah us daily posters are sick in the head... did that come as a shock to you?

Re:Cancer (-1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386561)

And yeah us daily posters are sick in the head... did that come as a shock to you?

Course not :-)

The slashdot game is a mild addiction like WoW (well that's not mild by the sound of things).

Re:Cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15386607)

Besides you've got to be nuts to love macs... I should know, I love them, I've just learned to embrace my caffeine induced psychosis, it's like Paris Hilton's pet, I take it with me everywhere ... sometimes it makes do bad stuff though ... like putting stuff on fire and defecating on the floor at lectures... then I've have to go to my cage :(

Re:Cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15386608)

"I can tell that you're an anti-mac bigot, who's just trying to bait me."

No, I'm an anti-idiot bigot, who has continually baited you with great success. So, wrong, and wrong, pretty close to your standard score.

"Why don't you get an account, log in & we can discuss your anti-mac agenda?"

Or, you could just keep posting AC and acting like it's not you.

See, you keep replying. It's not because you have anything to say, it's because you can't help yourself.

You're ill, sick in the head, and it's sad (but a little funny).

Re:Cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15386936)

hahahahaha!

I live for threads like this one!

Thanks AC! Thanks everyone who contributed!

*Gives everyone in the thread a big sloppy kiss!*

(and I just know AC is going to have to reply to this, even tho' noone will ever read it!)

If cancer isn't a disease, then the reason is... (1)

jack_call (742032) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386372)

In most cases of cancer(as I recall it it's about 70%), it is found that the protein p53 is in someway defect. p53 is the protein responsible for during a "checksum" of the DNA string, and is damaged instruct the cell to repair its DNA or undergo apoptosis.
The damage to the p53 can, amongst other things, be caused by disease.

Human Papilloma Virus (5, Informative)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386573)

Actually, you'd be surprised. Nothing gets into your cells and screws up your DNA like a virus.

Have you heard of HPV (Human Papilloma Virus)? It's a very-common (family) of sexually-transmitted viruses. We've known for a long time that certain types of HPV are the cause of cervical and ovarian cancer in women and testicular cancer in men (e.g.: these cancers are STDs), and more recent research has shown that HPV is also linked to certain forms of skin cancer.

In other words: Yes, cancer can be and often is caused by infectious diseases!

Hopefully, it won't be like... (1, Insightful)

magores (208594) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386249)

Hopefully, it won't be like...

The rainforest(s).

Lots of potential, but wasted.

Re:Hopefully, it won't be like... (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386386)

I'm not sure there was potential to begin with, just a wild guess. But it's definitely analagous -- claiming the existence of cures in nature that we won't get if we don't go along with some environmentalist* program.

* By "environmentalist", I of course mean anti-technologists who use desire for non-pollution and wilderness preservation as a cloak for their real goals, not genuine environmentalists that actually care about the environment.

This is pretty common, actually (3, Informative)

Dr.Enormous (651727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386259)

If you read biology journals, you'll see that just about every third or fourth paper consists of "we pureed some sea sponge in a blender and extracted this compound. And look, it kills cancer cells (*cough* and non-cancerous cells too *cough*)!" The only thing different here is a somewhat deeper venue for collection. (this isn't to say that it's not important scientific work, just that it's rather commonplace and rarely leads to much of anything)

Re:This is pretty common, actually (1)

955301 (209856) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386370)

It certainly reeks of someone's pet project. I cannot imagine that everything between our current elevation and the spot they chose has been thoroughly investigated and that this is our last bastion of naturally occurring medicines.

If someone were to do a cost analysis on this, I'm betting they could fund several, if not tens of similar projects on dry land. Having said that, it's not likely you will get shot or kidnapped while searching in the depths of the ocean as oppose to wandering about in the jungles or forests of a hostile land (*cough* mississippi *cough*).

Re:This is pretty common, actually (2, Insightful)

Frumious Wombat (845680) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386686)

Coming from the deliberately-synthesized school of chemistry, I was surprised when I sat on a PhD committee recently, and asked the student what the sponge did with the chemical she was discussing. I got a blank stare from the student, and one of the committee members told me that nobody knows, and the natural-product researchers just pick an organism, puree it (or some part of it), make separations, then try them on anything they'd like to cure/killl, and see what works.

As much as I applaud my colleagues for getting the state to fund their diving expedition, it would be nice if some of that money went to trying to understand what role the compounds have in the original organism, then working outward from there to design new pharmaceuticals. It might give us to the tools to stop prospecting, and instead rationally design our molecular targets to fit the application.

Of course, if you read this week's New Yorker, you can see how much effort has gone into rationally designing a replacement for sugar in food, versus how much success on the other end.

Re:This is pretty common, actually (1)

brianerst (549609) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387343)

On top of that, there is the annoying habit of the mass media's description of any type of medical research as having the potential to treat "cancer or Alzheimer's" (or AIDS or Parkinson's).

These types of bioassays are the ultimate in crap shoots - there is no specific reason to suspect that brain coral just happens to secrete a substance that treats brain cancer. We're just looking for all sorts of oddly shaped proteins and hoping that one of them fits a receptor somewhere. It's just as likely that we'd find a substance that reduces flatulence, but we'd probably miss that one because no one is looking for it.

If I read one more article claiming that stem cells will cure everything from cancer to acne, I think I'm gonna scream...

Re:This is pretty common, actually (1)

John Newman (444192) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387841)

If you read biology journals, you'll see that just about every third or fourth paper consists of "we pureed some sea sponge in a blender and extracted this compound. And look, it kills cancer cells (*cough* and non-cancerous cells too *cough*)!"
Once in a blue moon, it does work. Search PubMed for "ecteinascidin" or "Et-743". The compound was isolated from pureed Caribbean sea squirt, and is showing great promise for hard-to-treat sarcomas.

On the other hand, that's the only example that comes easily to mind.

Sea Exploration (4, Insightful)

gmiley (975720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386279)

We really need to get back on this train. Oceanography wasn't really even around until relatively recent times. Even once it started catching on, it quickly died off. To date, one of our biggest contributions to oceanography and marine biology has been the H.M.S. Challenger in the 1870's, it's three year mission to explore strange... well, nevermind you get the picture. Sure we have made some large steps since then, but nothing that comes close.

Re:Sea Exploration (2, Insightful)

icebrain (944107) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386340)

Sounds eerily familiar, like the space program... we get one (or a couple) good efforts going, finally start learning stuff... and then people drop it with the mentality of "all right, that's good enough." I'm sure there's a good supply of young people who would be very willing to do out on new oceanographic research trips... but I'm betting they're either lured away by bigger research grants in other areas, or no one wants to fund them for the above-mentioned reason. And I think the public perception of the field is either of Mr. Cousteau ("a dead guy who lived on a boat") or Robert Ballard ("oh, the guy that found the Titanic"). And everyone thinks oceanography is finding old shipwrecks, and they quickly turn to thoughts of salvaging an old wreck or finding some hidden conspiracy... (or maybe that's just my lack of coffee speaking). The above probably holds true for most areas of science... people want lots of amazing new scientific discoveries fast, thrilling, and cheap. They don't understand how science works, and write it off as boring and useless... then move on to "American Idol."

Re:Sea Exploration (2, Interesting)

gmiley (975720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386456)

You are correct, you do see this in many fields of scientific research. An idea catches on, and just as quickly it fades away. In the 1930's two men invented what is called the "bathysphere", it was eventually made by GE (General Electric), the home appliance company. The two men were Barton and Beebe, they got to a depth of around 1,400 feet.

After that, in 1953, a Swiss explorer, Auguste Piccard, made a record shattering dive to almost 7 miles. This vessel, the Trieste, was sponsored by the U.S. Navy. After that they funding stopped citing it as a waste of money. Man has not since been back to that depth (AFAIK), making it strikingly similar to the space program and the Lunar projects. =/

Re:Sea Exploration (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387895)

You are correct, you do see this in many fields of scientific research. An idea catches on, and just as quickly it fades away. In the 1930's two men invented what is called the "bathysphere", it was eventually made by GE (General Electric), the home appliance company. The two men were Barton and Beebe, they got to a depth of around 1,400 feet.

After that, in 1953, a Swiss explorer, Auguste Piccard, made a record shattering dive to almost 7 miles. This vessel, the Trieste, was sponsored by the U.S. Navy. After that they funding stopped citing it as a waste of money. Man has not since been back to that depth (AFAIK), making it strikingly similar to the space program and the Lunar projects. =/

I'm always astonished when people write arrant nonsense, close it with an 'AFAIK' - and then treat it as if it was fact. Does no one ask questions any more? Do they lack the curiosity and wit to even try and educate themselves?

At any rate, the answer to you unasked question is, No, they have not stopped funding deep ocean research. [noaa.gov]

Re:Sea Exploration (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387812)

Sounds eerily familiar, like the space program...
Sound eerily like you not only don't have a clue, but lack the wit to use Google as well.
we get one (or a couple) good efforts going, finally start learning stuff... and then people drop it with the mentality of "all right, that's good enough."
Hasn't happened with with oceanography - or space. What has happened is that both have become common enough that it's no longer 'sexy'.
I'm sure there's a good supply of young people who would be very willing to do out on new oceanographic research trips...
Indeed there is - and there are new research trips made each and every year.

Re:Sea Exploration (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387778)

We really need to get back on this train. Oceanography wasn't really even around until relatively recent times. Even once it started catching on, it quickly died off. To date, one of our biggest contributions to oceanography and marine biology has been the H.M.S. Challenger in the 1870's, it's three year mission to explore strange... well, nevermind you get the picture. Sure we have made some large steps since then, but nothing that comes close.
How did this nonsense get modded insightful? Even a minute of googling on 'oceanography' and 'marine biology' shows them to be extremely active fields.

HMS Challenger's mission was a three year one - because it took that long to get from the UK to anywhere interesting in the Pacific, and back. Today, rather than sending a handful of scientists on a three year mission - thousands are flying or sailing across the globe on a daily basis.

Odd. . . (2, Funny)

Limburgher (523006) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386283)

Now I have "Octopus's Garden" running through my head. How strange.

Odder Yet... (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387608)

FTFS: "I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus' garden in the shade
He'd let us in, knows where we've been
In his octopus' garden in the shade "
(emphasis mine)

Funny, it's the YRO articles about the NSA that make me think of Octopus' Garden.

Re:Odd. . . (1)

neoform (551705) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387781)

I dunno about you, but when i saw that headline i was thinking "Man, where can i score some of these wonder drugs and where's the nearest rave?!"

Reef Etiquette (4, Informative)

schweinhund (119060) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386285)

For those who are not familiar with coral reefs and may go for a casual snorkel or swim sometime, please do not physically touch the coral itself as this kills it. Because of this, federal law requires swimmers to wear flotation jackets when nearby to avoid contact.

It takes 30,000 years to grow 1 cubic inch of coral, and the mistreatment of the reefs around Florida (1960s dynamite fishing, jewelry harvesting, etc.) has made it so that the reef off of the Florida Keys is the last living coral reef in the region.

Re:Reef Etiquette (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15386344)

For those who are not familiar with coral reefs and may go for a casual snorkel or swim sometime, please do not physically touch the coral itself as this kills it. Because of this, federal law requires swimmers to wear flotation jackets when nearby to avoid contact.

As an ex-marine aquarist (I stopped when I found out that 99% of the animals are from the wild! Don't let some pet-store schmuck tell you otherwise), I've placed a few corals in my tank. The ones that are sold in stores are hardy enough to have survived the transportation from some place around the globe that's still exploiting their reefs for this trade. Most corals are very delicate and they feel like slimy rocks (the hard corals) and like stiff snot (the soft corals). So, if you want to know what a coral or reef feels like, pick your nose when you have allergies or a cold and then pick up a rock.

Re:Reef Etiquette (5, Interesting)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386369)

It takes 30,000 years to grow 1 cubic inch of coral,

Source?

I thought it was more like 1/2 inch per year

Re:Reef Etiquette (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15386447)

Source? :P

Re:Reef Etiquette (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386449)

I thought it was more like 1/2 inch per year

Ahem, sorry, (I'm not used to working in British imperial units, they're so old fashioned!)

I should have said 1/20th inch per year

(around 13mm, I lost a zero converting)

Re:Reef Etiquette (1)

Wooster_UK (963894) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386510)

Eh? 13mm *is* half an inch.

Re:Reef Etiquette (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386535)

Eh? 13mm *is* half an inch.

*snort* you're right *sighs* Where the hell did I leave my brain this afternoon.

Just goes to show, we should get rid of those units & get everyone on to metric asap!

Re:Reef Etiquette (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15386717)

Just goes to show, we should get rid of those units & get everyone on to metric asap!


Does it? Or does it simply illustrate your lack of ability with third grade arithmetic? It sounds to me as if you were trying to be alarmist and got caught faking information. Coral Reefs are more resilient than they're given credit for, and according to Darwin, everything will adapt and survive (or shouldn't survive).

Re:Reef Etiquette (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386756)

It sounds to me as if you were trying to be alarmist

Incorrect. Reread the thread.

The gp thought he'd overestimated the growth rates, not underestimated.

Re:Reef Etiquette (4, Informative)

gmiley (975720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386544)

Just a quick google search found:
Ariel Roth of the Geoscience Research Institute has commented on the fact that estimates of net reef growth rates vary from 0.8 millimetres per year to 80 millimetres per year, whereas actual measurements based on soundings at depth are many times these estimates.3 Roth suggests a number of reasons for this difference.
source [answersingenesis.org] And from Wikipedia:
Formation of the calciferous exoskeleton involves deposition of calcium carbonate by the polyps from calcium ions isolated from seawater. The rate of deposition, while varying greatly between species and environmental conditions, can be as much as 10 g / m2 of polyp / day (0.3 ounce / sq yd / day). This is however hugely dependent on light, with production reduced by 90% at night compared to the middle of the day[6].
source [wikipedia.org]

LOL (0, Troll)

BitterAndDrunk (799378) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387113)

You used answersingenesis.org as a "source"? I'm sorry but that's just too funny. "Here's my source, motherfucker, from a 'scientific' magazine that disproves science!"


Classic.

Re:Reef Etiquette (1)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386443)

It takes 30,000 years to grow 1 cubic inch of coral
That doesn't make much sense. What happens if you have two reefs growing simultaneously? Do they grow at half speed as to stay within this speed limit? Or, for that matter, what happens if you have two spots on the same reef, growing simultaneously (which they of course do)?

Re:Reef Etiquette (1)

pete.com (741064) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386728)

This is complete BS. I have a Reef Aquarium and the hard coral grows one hell of a lot faster than that.

So Says The Man From Ohio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15386803)

So, you went on vacation in Florida and saw a reef once, did you?

federal law requires swimmers to wear flotation jackets when nearby to avoid contact.

That applies only with the Nation Park reef.

It takes 30,000 years to grow 1 cubic inch of coral

That is utter rubbish. Reefs can grow anywhere from a few millimeters to several centimeters(or inches) per year! It depends on light, temperature, species, environmental pressures and more. But, it's a hell of a lot faster than you think.

mistreatment of the reefs around Florida (1960s dynamite fishing, jewelry harvesting, etc.) has made it so that the reef off of the Florida Keys is the last living coral reef in the region.

Where else do you think they would be? Where else in North America have they existed in modern times? Take a look at the lattitude of the United States and of Florida. Coorelate the lattitude with the water temperatures. Where else in the U.S. do you think coral might be able to grow but, doesn't? Ever been in the Caribbean where it's warmer than the Florida Keys?

Don't be dissing dynamite fishing either! You've never tried it and since you don;t have any of the other facts right, I don't think your qualified to judge on the matter.

Re:Reef Etiquette (1)

Council (514577) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387618)

It takes 30,000 years to grow 1 cubic inch of coral

. . . that's a confusing statistic for something that is inherently parallel in nature. It could take 30,000 years to grow 1 cubic inch of coral, and next to it another cubic inch of coral, and then you could say it takes 30,000 years to grow 2 cubic inches of coral. I mean, more than 1 cubic inch of coral grows every 30k years. Is that 1 cubic inch built up per square inch of area? Then it should be phrased differently, probably as 1 inch of thickness added.

Humans are not that unique in the world (3, Insightful)

BinaryOne (697044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386303)

The fact is, most of the health problems (or most of the problems, period) we face as humans, ie: cellular degeneration, bacterial infections, etc. have some analog in other forms of nature.

The production of antibiotics by fungi and other bacteria to reduce the population of competing organisms has been honed by centuries of evolution. If preserved, supported and studied the processes, and the compounds are there to be used.

The science is slow and tedious, but many of the cultures that live in these rich habitats are well versed in the properties of the flora they have around them.

Are you on the endangered ideologies' list? : ) (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387526)

honed by centuries of evolution.

Wow! A young-earth evolutionist! :-P

Cancer and Alzheimer's... or.. (1)

layer3switch (783864) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386327)

V1@Gr4 ... time for me to update spamassassin filter to include "deep sea reef"

Reefs (2, Insightful)

Sqreater (895148) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386354)

How can we be expected to destroy them if we don't know where they are? Let's put more money into hunting down these "reef" things so we can pit-mine them for a solution to athlete's foot.

Or, maybe we can just leave them the hell alone. How about it scientists? Just a thought.

Re:Reefs (1)

Frumious Wombat (845680) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386746)

If people with scientific and engineering mindsets just "left things alone", you'd be sitting in a cave wondering why rocks weren't edible.

Most likely, as the natural product needs to be modified before being an effective pharmaceutical, the compounds of interest will be identified. Then either the necessary gene sequence will be cloned into a workhorse organism, such as yeast or E. coli, or retrosynthetic techniques will be used to make the compound and derivatives thereof under abiotic conditions.

Translation: no company expecting to sell billions of dollars worth of product would rely on such a low-yield source such as mining coral reefs for drugs. Even Taxol( (R) Bristols-Meyer-Squibb) http://www.bris.ac.uk/Depts/Chemistry/MOTM/taxol/t axol.htm/ [bris.ac.uk] , which could be grown on vast yew ranches, is preferrentially synthesized via standard organic chemistry techniques. Our methods of finding new molecules may be from the Dark Ages, but our methods of synthesizing them are not.

Re:Reefs (1)

gmby (205626) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387185)

"for a solution to athlete's foot."
Try vinegar 1 cup per gallon water. Soak feet for a good while. Spray a little in the shoe if you can't wash the shoes. If you can wash the shoes then use bleach and a little vinegar in the wash.
Oh... and always buy shoes that are on the top shelf and have not been tried on by an "athlete!"

PS. If you have a problem with "athletes foot" then please "GO TO THE SHOE STORE WITHOUT YOUR SHOES ON!" BUY CLEAN SOCKS BEFORE TRYING ON NEW SHOES! Use the above remedy to help with your fungi problem!

Remember; to kill a plant just change the PH!

Depths can't be right. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15386385)

This doesn't really make sense to me. I had been taught that coral reefs required the photosynthesis of the Zooanthelae algae which therefore, restricted such reefs to shallow waters where sunlight could penetrate. This article is talking about coral reefs 2,000 to 3,000 feet deep! That makes no sense.

For those that don't know, sunlight doesn't penetrate into the depths. It is noticeably dimmer at 120 feet (an approximate limit for sport SCUBA divers.) and it is quite dark at 300 feet. No light whatsoever reaches 2,000 feet or deeper.

Further investigation shows that the originally discovery [sciencedaily.com] was coral reefs 200-300 feet down which, while quite deep for coral, is far above the darkness of 2,000 feet.

Not the First Time (1)

giafly (926567) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386390)

FTA "the Miami researchers believe this is the first time an AUV has been used to map deepwater coral reefs". Seems they never use Google.

"New Underwater Imaging Vehicle Maps ... deepwater coral reefs" - Jul 29, 2003 [spacemart.com]

Scientists Search Deep Sea Reefs for Wonder Drugs (3, Funny)

slushbat (777142) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386415)

Of all the stupid places to drop your stash of wonder drugs over the side of the boat.

Re: Scientists Search Deep Sea Reefs for Wonder Dr (1)

nihaopaul (782885) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387083)

reminds me of a night dive on scubacat i was leading in thailand at the similan islands, i had a group of 5 with me, i found 1 tea spoon, some rubbish and 1 bottle of jhonny walker blacklabel 12yr in box which couldn't have been more than 2 hours old underwater, of course i was really removing rubbish!

anyone else read that as (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15386427)

Scientists Search for Deep Sea Reefer, wonder drugs?

With rainforests gone, we'll NEED to look harder (1)

malsdavis (542216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386453)

It makes sense really. Since we've cutting all the rainforests down to grow soya, we can no longer draw upon the most widely used source of drug inventions. Over 25% of modern drugs contain chemicals originally discovered in rainforest plants & animals. These discoveries then normally allow synthetic mass-production.

Once the rainforests are gone, discovering these chemicals and constituants will get much tougher and many drugs simply wont be invented. Reefs may help produce some drugs, but the article ignores the fact that the diminishing rainforests and other similar natural sources provide far better places to look for potential drug ingredients!

This is always a needle in haystack deal.... (2, Interesting)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386496)

A friend of mine with a biology background took a job involving searching for new plants and herbs with potential scientific/medical uses. He was sent on expensive trips to remote parts of Africa and other locations to examine the plants and flowers - and after years of it, found absolutely nothing useful. Did this mean he was a "failure" or lost his job over it? Heck no... That was pretty much what they *expected* would happen. It's just that there's so much money involved if someone DOES hit upon a useful one, they'll throw wads of money at the problem.

This strikes me as the same thing, only in the ocean rather than on land. Exploring is all well and good, but if there's sufficient risk of doing major damage to the landscape - it seems like the negatives outweigh the lottery-winning like chances of finding a benefit from it.

Corporations destroy nature. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15386505)

It's disgusting that corporations are destroying nature. I have no idea why we can't just stop destroying nature by holding corporations responsible. The rich are always willing to annihilate entire species just to save a couple cents on their products so they make fatter profits.

I'm not being selfish about this. All I want is a beautiful world left for me and my 6 children.

People/You Destroy Nature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15386722)

All I want is a beautiful world left for me and my 6 children.

Do you grow your own food?
Where do your medicines come from?
Is your housing made of all natural, renewable materials?
Did you avoid clearing the land before building the housing?
Where does your energy (oil/coal/electricity) come from?
Where does your waste/garbage/sewage/emissions go to?

If you answer no to any of these questions, then you and your 6 children are a major reason why people (not corporations, people) annihilate entire species just to save a couple cents on their products.

But, it's always so much easier to point at 'evil corporations' and cast blame rather than accepting your 6 portion share of the responsibility. Isn't it?

Sealab 2021 (1)

Jamesjoh1337 (314821) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386556)

Stimutax anyone?

Notice to all sea sponges: Don't panic (5, Informative)

paiute (550198) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386655)

Although it may seem that if a promising drug is found in a deep sea organism, the rapacious drug companies will get all Constant Gardener on them and start the dredging, that is not how it goes. If a compound is isolated from a sponge that had some desirable bioactivity in humans, that compound is isolated and its stucture is determined. Now the reason this compound has some activity in humans - a species the sponge has had no evolutionary contact with - is most usually due to the way some corner of the chemical sticks into a receptor or enzyme in the mammalian cell. This corner, by no means the whole thing, is called a pharmaphore - the actual working part of the molecule. The rest of the compound is unnecessary. The drug company doesn't need to waste money making that part, or squeezing out gallons of sponge juice. They set their hundreds of medicinal chemists to work preparing a simpler, easier to manufacure, compound that contains the necessary pharmaphore.

wonder drugs (1)

aexiphixion (529171) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386657)

someone should tell them about amsterdam..

Extra! Extra! Read All About It! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15386705)

Miraculous cure for all types of cancer found in sea sponge!

In other news, environmentalists sued and won in federal court to prohibit any and all collection of sea sponges for any reason. Environmentalist also sued to prohibit any research done to date from being released due to concerns that evil capitalists would attempt to bring the new drugs to market and thereby create a market for sea sponges.

DiscoveryHD program on the reef (2, Interesting)

dmt99 (123849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386744)

The DiscoveryHD channel has a program, "Predators of the Great Barrier Reef" which shows a natural enemy to the worlds reef population, the Crown Of Thorns Starfish. These starfish are demolishing the reefs at a very fast rate. During the show, they discuss the fact that certain sea animals (fish, eels, sea-snakes) have venom which can help with pain management and possibly cure some illnesses. http://dhd.discovery.com/tvlistings/episode.jsp?ep isode=0&cpi=110507&gid=0&channel=DHD [discovery.com]

stop! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15386841)

you might wake up cthulhu...

Inside joke alert! (1)

tgv (254536) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386853)

Isn't this known as a "fishing expedition"?

Why? (1)

Frankie70 (803801) | more than 8 years ago | (#15386924)

Why are they searching for meds there?
Why not search the Sahara desert or the
moon or the African jungle or something?

Why the deep sea reef?

Re:Why? (1)

Locus Mote (307298) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387059)

Why are they searching for meds there? Why not search the Sahara desert or the moon or the African jungle or something? Why the deep sea reef?

It is most likely that there are other groups studying the life of the Sahara desert and African jungles, however, it is most unlikely that studying biodiversity on the moon will turn up much that is useful. (As far as we know, there is no life there!) More fruitful for the moon would be a search for life at all. Once we find it, then we can study it.

When searching for novel organic compounds scientists will often examine places with high-biodiversity or intense living pressures, like near-surface coral reefs or rainforests. The more ecological niches there are in a locale, the more intense the evolutionary pressure to adapt. When species adapt to these circumstances, they often produce organic chemical compounds which are highly complex and completely unique. Scientists prize these compounds for their ability to perform various funcitons in the human body.

Why deep sea vents and reefs? They are not easy places to live and therefore are likely locations for intense adaptation among resident species.

Okay so what about this... (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387056)

I read speculation that fungus develops anti-microbial toxins because it competes with bacteria for living space.

Soooo... in addition to searching deep sea reefs, how about putting various kinds of cancer cells into competition with fungi and bacteria until some develop randomly that kill the cancer. Then see what they did to achieve that.

It might be cheaper.

Yadda yadda... (0, Flamebait)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387156)

Not to be a kill-joy or anything but why is it that when any group of scientists goes out to some obscure wilderness they always say they're looking for cancer treatment stuff? These guys seem to have been doing this for bunchteen years and have yet to come up with squat. Instead they always seem to come back with yet another global warming doom-and-gloom prediction. I'll bet they'd get more mileage (so-to-speak) if they said they were off looking for treatments for male-pattern baldness or childhood/adulthood obesity.

OrgWHAT? (1)

Aeonite (263338) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387190)

For a moment, I thought that said "A primary goal of the upcoming expedition... will be to search for marine orgasms..."

I was much more interested in the article until I re-read that sentence.

NO MORE NEW DRUGS!!! (0, Troll)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387214)

I don't want there to be any more new drugs! Our current crop of drugs are incredibly expensive, and due to patent limitations generic inexpensive version can't be made for several years. The result is that in order to recoup investments in successful and failed drugs the medical companies charge a high price (and a lot of people think they're greedy too). These high prices make it hard for senior citizens and the poor to afford their medications and this puts a tax on the US medicare system so that we are forced to pay higher taxes. If we didn't create any new drugs, in the next 20 or so years all of the drugs would be out of patent and would be very cheap. Everyone could afford the drugs they need and the Medicare/Medicaid system would be less costly. Also, if we don't invent new drugs we don't run the risk of extending people's lives longer then they are now which will increase the cost of Social Security, a system that is already on the virge of bankruptcy.

I'm not for destrying rainforests or tearing up reefs... but lets just stop making new drugs! Save the future for the children, stop new drugs now!

and the drugs that we don't have? (1)

painQuin (626852) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387870)

sure everyone could afford the drugs they need -that exist- but what about the people who need drugs that don't exist because we stopped developing them?

I'm just saying, you can't just stop this sort of progress without other repercussions.

Scientists search deep sea reefs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15387439)

...for miracle drugs.
But that's not where I hid them!!! HA HA HA!!

Hey scientists you are gettiiiiing cooooooooooooooooollllllllllder!

HA HA HA!

Sincerely,
    GOD

OH! (1)

spankey51 (804888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387602)

" Scientists Search Deep Sea Reefs for Wonder Drugs"

So THATS where the term "reefer" comes from!

Obtaining Funding (0, Troll)

soaro77 (809501) | more than 8 years ago | (#15387771)

I personally think they are just using cancer research as a reason in order to obtain funding to do these deep dives and explore the reef. What better way to obtain funding than to say you are doing it for cancer research.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...