By marine scientist and Safina Center Fellow Dr. Ellen Prager, Co-authored by Carl Safina
Why should we curb ocean pollution, stop overfishing, prevent invasive species and save coral reefs?
Because the next wonder drug in the battle against some of our most insidious diseases, such as cancer or Alzheimer’s, may be lurking just beneath the waves!
The ocean covers nearly three-quarters of our planet and provides billions of people with a critical source of protein along with hundreds of millions of jobs and billions of dollars in economic revenue. The ocean is part of the Earth’s life support system, producing oxygen while absorbing carbon dioxide and heat. Simply put, our quality of life on the planet is inherently connected to the sea! And you’ve probably heard all of that before. Still not convinced?
Well, how about this: The ocean, in fact, may be the greatest reservoir of new, effective and as of yet, undiscovered pharmaceuticals. Already, there are eight approved drugs derived from marine chemicals that are being used to fight cancer, pain, viruses and inflammation. Another twelve compounds are in clinical trials with many more in the preclinical phase, these look to combat cancer, Alzheimer’s, viruses, asthma and to promote wound healing. And we’ve only explored some five percent of the ocean!