Only a mother could love ‘em: why cockroaches and termites are great parents. Fortunately, they can be used as a disease treatment in humans as well. Although there's an extensive list of herbs with healing properties, most are well known and we often use them on a daily basis to cook or boost our health. Spiders are cannibalistic by nature and so they don’t exactly thrive well together in a farming situation. Molecular biologists at the University of Wyoming have found a way to connect the spider silk gene responsible for making silk protein to the part of a goat’s DNA that controls which tissue will produce the protein (a mammary gland in this case). GM microbes, plants, and animals also revolutionized the production of complex pharmaceuticals by … Medicine is a continuously growing field with new discoveries occurring almost everyday. It may still be a while before doctors can use this tumour detection process though, as research is still being undertaken to discover a suitable dye that will be approved by the FDA. of MP), Jabalpur Division, Jabalpu r, India This magical paint appears to be at least 500 times more sensitive to the presence of cancer cells than an MRI scan and can last in the body for up to 2 weeks, a huge improvement on some current contrast agents which only last a few minutes. Multipurpose sunscreen secreted from sweaty hippo glands? Crabs are supposedly only bled once and then released back into the wild so let’s just hope that we don’t drive these incredibly useful critters down to dangerous levels for our own purposes (because we’ve never done that before). Some bacteria are harmful, but most serve a useful purpose. The juice contains a chemical called alonin, that has been used in cosmetics and medicine. Genetically modified bacteria were the first organisms to be modified in the laboratory, due to their simple genetics. However, results from testing T-601 in a small number of human trails have shown promise and patients have generally significantly lengthened their survival rates. This simple process of the crab’s immune system first interested scientists over 30 years ago, but it is still continuing to benefit medicine every day. By understanding our biodiversity, the Earth’s life support, we can discover the value of our native species in our everyday life. Microbes consist of bacteria, fungi, archaea, protists, plants which are invisible to the naked eye, and plankton. T-601 mimics this (with tumours replacing cockroaches) and is one of the few chemicals that can break through our blood-brain barrier unobstructed. Really informative and mind bobling thought s. We love hearing from you, but we have a few guidelines. 6 Surprisingly Advanced Ways Animals Use Medicine. But there’s still more. Evolution has spent a very long time creating some ingenious solutions to some of life’s greatest problems and it hopefully won’t be long until we unlock even more of nature’s hidden treasures. When tested on mice, researchers discovered the chemical could light up brain tumours as small as 1mm in diameter and even show cancerous cells travelling through the lymphatic system. There are several more plants used in herbal medicine, but one of the most popular is Camillia sineses, which is … The form of lovastatin that's used as a medicine is a lactone and is produced by a different method. Another name for this is genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Fish skin for burns. Research has proven the drug to be 1000 times more powerful than morphine with the added benefits of not offering the addictive and tolerance-building side effects that accompany traditional opiates. That is, saving the study by the University of Queensland which looked at five scorpion species and found potential uses of their venom in pain management drugs. Horseshoe crabs have therefore revolutionised the biomedical industry and every drug and surgical implant must now be tested using this method. Today, they're the best option for those who prefer a natural treatment for their ailments.. For centuries, medicine has looked to nature for cures and treatments. Researchers have discovered sponges contain complex chemical compounds which they employ as antibiotics to fight off harmful bacteria. As a result, the FDA has now officially approved Prialt and you can add the cone snail to your thank-you card list. If goats can do it, why not plants? Most DNA is located in the cell nucleus (where it is called nuclear DNA), but a small amount of DNA can also be found in the mitochondria (where it is called mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA). Sea sponges in particular seem to be making quite the impression on medicine and medical science. Credit: Bill and Mark Bell. Other organic compounds used as antibiotic drugs are Tetracycline and Ampicillin. Study of the fish skin revealed it is high in collagen and has a similar moisture content to human skin. Whether it’s the depths of a jungle or the reefs of an ocean, the flora and fauna on our planet have generally been around a lot longer than us and as a result, they’ve come up with some ridiculously efficient methods of combating whatever poses a threat to their survival. However, use of genetically modified bacteria outside of the lab has been limited by concerns that they—and the sometimes novel genes they carry—could escape into the wild. The process also helps by speeding up new tissue growth. They believe this provides an explanation for what happens to all the organic matter from dead fish and algae when it falls to the seabed. We humans like to think of ourselves as the brainiest of the bunch but really, we are just insignificant walking, talking (albeit less hairy) apes and we’ve actually gained the vast majority of our knowledge from observing the weird and wonderful ways of Mother Nature. The bacteria can also be used to treat gastrointestinal issues. Facebook. Long before pure chemicals were manufactured in labs, people used plants for medicine. Scientists first started paying more attention to hippos when they noticed they appeared to be sweating blood. Enter Chlorotoxin (Cy5.5), a chemical found in the venom of the Giant Yellow Israeli Scorpion (also known as the Death Stalker, coincidence?) GMOs have emerged as one of the mainstays of biomedical research since the 1980s. The National Cancer Institute now estimates that 65 percent of all cancer drugs come from natural products and those found beneath the waves appear to be offering particularly unique solutions to some of mans biggest problems and are currently taking medicine to new levels. Cyclosporine is one medicinal chemical in fungi. When the chemical solution is exposed to light, it becomes toxic and this characteristic has been harnessed as a treatment. Our Australian National Herbarium holds more than than one million plant specimens. Nature has provided us with medicines for centuries and still, scientists continue to find new cures and remedies. It makes a lot of sense then, to put more time and effort into the study of nature and what it can offer. Beautifully decorated and slow moving they may be, but lethal harpoon-shooting menaces? In 2006, Dr. Adam Mamelak took advantage of the venom’s properties and combined T-601 with radioactive iodine to deliver little packages of doom straight to the brain tumour’s (Gilomas) door step. … For example, one of the first mutations Morgan isolated is known as white; flies with this mutation have white eyes (instead of red)9. Here are our top five picks for medicines derived from nature. If you are squeamish – read no further! The active ingredient of the new treatment was first produced in the lab from bacteriochlorophyll, which is the photosynthetic pigment of certain aquatic bacteria that draw their energy supply from sunlight. The bacteria that live in the deep sea are difficult to study but a Danish-led research team that examined the bottom of the deepest part of the world’s oceans in 2013 found the seafloor is a ‘hotspot’ for bacterial activity. Normally, you wouldn’t think twice about these but have you ever stopped to consider just how many of our medical advancements have come straight from nature? Some bacteria cause disease in man, requiring treatment with an antibiotic. Fortunately, the maggots simply fall out when they are finished eating and cleaning. We are committed to child safety and to the implementation of Child Safe principles and procedures. But as more types of bacteria grow resistant to conventional antibiotics, medical scientists have come back full circle to sphagnum, proving that it indeed has antiseptic properties. They stay rooted to the same spot all their lives and don’t look like they have anything particularly interesting to offer other than brightening up the sea floor. Brains are particularly fiddly and any wrong move can lead to damage of the surrounding grey-matter and a very unsatisfied patient. Remember, the scorpion has been around a heck of a lot longer than us and as a result, its venom has been primed by evolution to work as efficiently as possible. Sun block, antiseptic and insect repellent. It is used against bronchitis, anaemia, urinary problems, asthma and also as a diuretic. However, unlike the human hormone, Exendin-4 could remain effective in the body for a lot longer and therefore had incredible potential to benefit people suffering from Type 2 diabetes. But this sticky perspiration still has more to offer. Pacific Prime is an insurance advisor that offers local insurance solutions and a wide range of plans to cover businesses, individuals, and families. GMOs in medicine and research. Research organisms may also reveal novel biological processes that can become important technologies for use in research or medicine. Introduction. The tilapia treatment has reduced pain and sped up wound healing. Some of the most commonly used plants in herbal medicine are echinacea, golden seal, and aloe vera. An alternative to morphine made by venomous snails? Well, it would seem all the information we really need is right under our noses and we just need to know whereabouts to look to make the best use of it. The sheep blow fly is only one type of fly, but there are many more! Researchers hope to be able to repeat the same process in the future with alfalfa plants as these have a high protein content and are widely distributed, therefore enabling vast quantities of silk to be mass produced. Knowledge of the aldose reductase gene is currently being used to determine the mechanism of inappropriate genetic expression in diabetes. Other medical uses of probiotics include treating eczema, reducing the duration of the flu or common cold, and … To address the issue, a doctor in the seaside town of Fortaleza is trialling the use of fish skins to treat burn wounds. Privacy policy, Nurture in nature: Top 5 species used in medicine. Bark yieldsa Vitter principle, called phyllanthin. The maggots eat infected tissue, and in the process cleanse a wound with their antibacterial saliva. What on earth could science have possibly learnt from these angry water-dwelling brutes you might ask? Now, these and other medicines can be made by specially-modified bacteria, called transgenic bacteria. Our own RV Investigator has just returned from a journey off the coast of Australia, where the team on board were sampling the deep abyss, and found all sorts of mysterious life. From bullet proof vests to artificial ligaments, the possible products are numerous; but up until now, researchers haven’t been able to gather the stuff in large enough quantities to carry out the required research. They support many forms of life, both plant and animal, and they are used in industrial and medicinal processes. Precision is obviously paramount when cancer cells are involved, as if any are missed or left behind chances are the tumour will grow back. Currently, the use of microbes is not limited to the use in vaccinations. stepped up and found some pretty crazy results. Genetic engineering allows scientists to move desired genes from one plant or animal into another. Enter the humble tilapia, a fish that’s widely farmed in Brazil and whose skin, until now, was considered trash. Australia has over 5,000 known species of fish, with at least one new species being described every month. It is now known that the quinine interferes with the metabolism of the Plasmodium parasite that is transferred by mosquitoes and causes malaria. The venom of snakes, at least, has already been successfully synthesised into painkillers, using the African black mamba. Although it’s one of the few lizard species on earth that produces venom, the Gila monster has caused no human deaths and is really just a colourful lizard with a pretty painful bite. The cinchona tree’s medicinal use in the treatment of fevers was first discovered by the Quechua people of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. So hippo sweat – a triple threat! Antibiotic drugs are produced by organisms, mainly fungus and soil bacteria for treating diseases caused by bacteria and viruses. This information applies to prescription medicines that contain, or are produced by, genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Could we find similar uses for our 21,000+ native plants? Not so useless now eh? Today, there are over 100 active ingredients derived from plants for use as drugs and medicines. Pronounced HEE-la, the lizard lives exclusively in the Southwest United states and parts of northern Mexico and spends 95% of its life underground. If you’ve been around for millions of years and always lived in a giant cess pool (the ocean) you’ve probably been exposed to a crazy amount of microbes and gotten pretty darn good at fighting them off. Top stories emailed to your inbox each day! The first bacterial medicines — bacteria like E. coli programmed to dispense therapeutics — are on the horizon. model organisms used in molecular biology or medical research Pandey Govind* Officer-In-Charge of Rinder Pest (Animal Husb andry Dept, Govt. See, it may not be too long before you’re sat on the beach on a baking hot day, soaking up the rays and smearing their sweat all over your body. So you see, scorpions aren’t so bad. In Unani system, it is stomachic and useful against chronic dysentery. It is estimated their use saves Britain’s National Health Service $2.5 billion per year. Continued 7) Salvarsan -- The Cure for Lust. Either way, they’ve remained unchanged for more than 200 million years with the first ever horse shoe crab fossil dating back to roughly 450 million years ago. LAL is now used worldwide as a standard screening test for bacterial contamination. Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. At a selling rate of 15,000 USD for a pint of this blue juice though, why not set up your own horseshoe crab farm today! It's a peptide made by joining amino acids together. One convention in Drosophila, which Morgan initiated, is naming mutations to reflect the nature of their phenotype (the observable effects of the mutation). Traditional medicine in Asia and elsewhere frequently uses marine animals, including dried sponges, corals and jellyfish, shells of crabs, oysters, conch and other mollusks, pearls and cuttlefish ‘bones’, sea cucumbers, sea horses and many other marine animals to prepare powders, ointments and decoctions for many ailments. Back in 1992, endocrinologist ( Ed: a person who studies hormones, to us) Dr. John Eng named a compound of this hormone Exendin-4 b and likened it to the hormone produced in our own digestive tracts responsible for increasing insulin levels when blood sugar is high. Green Bottle Fly, Lucilia sericata. Microorganisms are widely used in modern medicine, and this is because microbes are an amazingly diverse population. In the wild, proteins in the scorpion’s venom attach to the nerve cells of their victims enabling them to paralyse their prey. For more information about any of our articles, or to find out more about the services we offer, visit our site here. Spider goats! One species of Caribbean Sea sponge uses its own antibiotic to strip bacteria of their protective bio-film making it easier for the sponge to kill them. The Top 6 Vacations for Warming Up Over Winter, 6 of the Worst: Football Injuries and How Much They Really Cost. After 10 years of research and development, a synthetic protein derived from the lizards venom (Byetta) was approved by the FDA and is now effective in not only assisting those with type 2 diabetes maintain healthy glucose levels but also enabling patients to lose weight by slowing down the emptying of the stomach and decreasing appetite levels. Good examples are the bacteria that have developed to break down oil in the water. The solution? Screening involves exposing a small amount of the sample under question to the crab blood, if endotoxins (toxic substances released by E. coli and other dangerous bacteria that can severely endanger the human immune system) are present, the blood will clot and the whole sample will be rejected. Quinine is a bitter alkaloid used not just to flavour your tonic water, but also to treat and prevent malaria. Press enter to see results or esc to cancel. Males often settle arguments with a good old fashioned brawl and with teeth so ridiculously big, the animals are able to deliver some impressive cuts and scrapes. Gilomas are deadly and patients receiving such an unfortunate diagnosis are not offered much hope at present. Also containing elements of deep sea sponge, Azidothymidine was the first antiretroviral medicine ever approved for the treating of HIV/AIDS, and is still widely used today especially in the successful prevention of disease transmission between mother and child. And no, this doesn’t mean we’re all going to be swinging from the buildings like Spiderman in a few years (not yet anyway), but ‘bio-silk’, as it’s known in the industry, can offer a lot more to modern man. If a tanker leaked and oil began to get into the water, these bacteria could be released to break down the oil. Upon closer inspection (and you thought your job was bad) they realised the animals were not bleeding or even sweating for that matter, they were in fact secreting a thick red substance from special glands under the skin. T-601, the synthetic version of the chemical found in the scorpion’s sting could help surgeons fight tumours as well as detect them. They discovered the secretion was made up of two compounds which they rather imaginatively named Hipposudoric and Norhipposudoric acid. But, unlike snake venom, which we know plenty about, the venom of scorpions in Australia is poorly understood. This red gooey stuff understandably called for further investigation and so a research team in Japan (Ed: where else?!) Tetracycline is used to treat pneumonia, whereas Ampicillin is used to prevent and treat meningitis. Discodermolide, an anti-cancer agent harvested from deep sea sponges has already progressed to the human clinical trials stage and if successful, it will be a powerful growth inhibitor of tumours and help prevent further abnormal cell division. Mean, angry, surprisingly speedy and armed with 50 centimetre long canines (this sweat research is starting to seem more impressive isn’t it?). Deploying sea sampling equipment from the RV Investigator. The clinical trials that have been conducted to date are providing very promising results. Although only a certain percentage of the embryos will develop into goats that possess the gene, the animals that do test positive will produce the protein every time they lactate, enabling silk proteins to be gathered in much higher quantities than ever before. In the first experiment, E coli that grew on particular types of tumour while ignoring healthy tissue were harvested from a readily available probiotic. Let’s get this ball rolling with Scorpions. Staff at the ANIC are trying to find out. Just try and forget the original purpose of their venom was to completely paralyze you whilst delivering insanely excruciating pain and you’re good to go! No, I’m not talking about some 8 legged goat-spider mutation that clings from giant webs on the ceiling and eats your clothes, I’m talking about transgenetic goats – obviously! They are currently used in the United States, Europe and at Westmead Hospital in Sydney, Australia. According to legend, the South American Indians knew to drink the waters from beneath the tree whose quinine made the waters bitter. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are widely used in research and for making pharmaceuticals and other products. Fungi produce chemicals that kill bacteria, and those chemicals are still used to control infections. But somehow spider alfalfa just doesn’t sound quite as cool…. Ugly, venomous and not exactly a favourite for most people. Sheep blowfly larvae are used to treat diabetic ulcers, bedsores and gangrenous wounds and are a useful alternative for antibiotics. Not bad for a scaly dribbling reptile! But of course, you’d be completely wrong. As the Discovery Channel famously put it, the world is just awesome. Antibiotics are produced in nature by molds such asPenicillium and bacteria such as Streptomyces and Bacillus. It is hoped that patients can undergo this process after receiving brain surgery to ensure any remaining cancer cells are completely destroyed. Upon further investigation, scorpion venom could turn from toxin to medicine in a pinch. This is most definitely the case with the horse shoe crab and it’s in the crab’s curious blue blood where their secrets to survival lie. Biochemist Baldomero Olivera was the first to point out that people who had been stung by these snails felt no pain and so set out to discover if smaller doses of the venom could actually have positive effects. These single-celled organisms have foreign genes along side their own DNA. More often than not, we humans experience some of these same threats but pale in comparison when it comes to overcoming them. As a species, we have often looked towards a higher power to try and find all the answers. An example of such a discovery is the CRISPR gene-editing system, which led to the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The possibilities truly are endless, so here are just 7 incredible living things that have either already benefited medicine, or are about to do so in unbelievable ways. Our Australian National Herbarium holds more than than one million plant specimens. Aloe vera is the thick juice of the aloe, a type of plant that comes from tropical Africa but is also cultivated elsewhere. There has been a long history of using Drosophila genetics as a tool for understanding biology dating back to Morgan's experiments over 100 years ago. As the solution circulates in a patient, doctors shine light directly inside the tumour, which causes toxins to be produced that result in damage to the tumour. Animal skin has long been used in the treatment of burns all around the world, but in Brazil their three skin banks only meet one percent of the national demand. You might think sponges are probably the least exciting organisms on this list. As a result of their lifestyle, Gila monsters have come up with some ingenious adaptations with one in particular impacting medicine in a massive way. Crabs are easy to collect, their blood is easy to harvest and the whole testing process only takes up to one hour. Not only is this mixture able to scatter visible light rays over the hippo’s body, it can block ultra-violet rays too; which explains why hippos aren’t walking round resembling giant ill-tempered tomatoes. The resulting compounds would not hurt the environment. which attaches itself to cancer cells within minutes of being introduced into the body. Scientists clocked the fact that these weird looking things hadn’t altered anything about their make up and yet have consistently thrived despite what nature (and mankind) has thrown at them so, naturally they figured they deserved a closer look. In medicine, it appears certain cancer cells have a similar receptor which attracts this same protein; binding Cy5.5 to cancer cells and leaving healthy human ones alone. Animal skin has long been used in the treatment of burns all around the world, … This plant has a reputed position in Ayurveda and Unani systems of medicine. Open wounds don’t normally do so well when submerged in what is basically a pool of poo all day, so how do hippos remain infection free? Taking this into consideration, this super silk could be used for eye sutures, jaw repair, artificial ligaments and tendons where the silk could help support nerve, cell and bone growth. The first recorded intentional use of maggots for wound cleaning is thought to have been when Confederate army surgeon JF Zacharias applied them during the American Civil War. Well turns out Hipposudoric acid also acts as a super powered antibiotic and actually completely inhibits the growth of bacteria as well as fending off insects. Sterilised skin strips are applied to second- and third-degree burns and, unlike gauze bandages, actually stay on. Genes are usually named after the first mutation isolated within them (e.g., white… Tilapia is widely farmed in Brazil. 7 Living organisms that aid modern medicine in the weirdest ways 1) Giant Yellow Israeli Scorpion There are several other examples where studies of properties of marine organisms have helped elucidate the mechanisms underlying a variety of biomedical problems caused by defects in fluid or ion transport. Well, rather a lot actually. How to structure an employee benefits package for Gen Z, How countries around the world are getting children back to school, Pacific Prime’s video on the top 3 non-monetary employee benefits, How to identify anxiety and depression when working from home, Top 3 employee benefits priorities in 2021. Which countries have the best healthcare in the world? During winter, Gila monsters save energy by shutting down all their active tissues and glands, this in itself is pretty common in the animal kingdom but it’s how the lizard stimulates its body back to life that first interested scientists. Various organisms are engineered for use as factories to produce the drug product. Researchers have genetically modified Escherichia coli bacteria to emit light in the presence of tumours or glucose. Since snails pretty much have the worst design for hunting prey, cone snails have evolved to shoot out tiny little harpoons loaded with venom which paralyze (and sometimes kill) their prey. When joined to a fluorescent marker, Cy5.5 will emit light in the Infra-red spectrum thereby illuminating whole tumours and even small clusters containing as little as a few hundred cells. Its healing properties have made it especially useful as an ingredient for lotions and gels that soothe burns, including sunburn. The problem? The properties of spider silk are nothing new to scientists, but the possibilities of actually being able to put the characteristics of that silk to use are now becoming more realistic than ever before. 2 - Insects - Maggots, or fly larve, are cool because they will eat dead flesh but not live flesh. Credit: Germano Roberto Schuur Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0). It is found in the bark of the cinchona tree which grows in Andean forests of western South America. Medicinal herbs have been used by humans for centuries to soothe and improve discomfort and various health problems. Let’s get this ball rolling with Scorpions. He went on to learn that the molecules the snails make to produce their venom were very small and simple and therefore easy to reproduce to create a synthetic version of the venom. So you won’t have as fun a time at the hospital, but you’ll walk away not wanting another hit – can’t be a bad thing! From luekemia treatments to combating herpes, sponges are continuously impacting medicine in a positive way and as there is still so much to learn, it would appear we have only just started to scratch this vast spongy surface. Hippos. Credit: Calibas, GNU Free documentation license. GMOs, short for genetically modified organisms, are subject to a lot of controversy. These days the process is supervised by “maggot nurses” often in the comfort of the patients’ homes. Eventually a drug compound mimicking the pain blocking properties of the venom was produced and named Prialt. While it is still unknown whether any of these impressive properties can be efficiently mimicked for use on human skin, the possibilities are there and well, let’s just say we wish the best of luck to whoever lands that marketing campaign. It does not apply to cell-based and tissue-based therapies that are defined as biologicals in the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 and its amendments, and which are therefore regulated under the Biologicals Regulatory Framework. The Australian National Fish Collection (ANFC) is a resource for many fields of science. Genetic engineering can be done with plants, animals, or bacteria and other very small organisms. Later, in 1825, when soldiers of the Indian Army were being given quinine to treat malaria, they began mixing it with soda water and gin to achieve a better taste, and thus, the gin and tonic was born! Everything from cancer-fighting bacterial pigment to malaria-thwarting chemicals in your gin and tonic, here’s our top five list of medicines derived from nature: A bacteria from the bottom of the seafloor that lives in almost total darkness has provided the basis for a new therapy to treat early-stage prostate cancer.
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