By Minerva Bc Newman
Cebu City – A non-government organization (NGO), Reef Check, revealed that there are 10 new drugs that come from animals in the ocean that are used to treat diseases, particularly leukemia and HIV/AIDS.
The founder of Reef Check, Dr. Gregor Hodjson, said that coral reefs are not just beneficial for food security but also useful for drugs formulations.
“The original chemical that is being tested came from (coral reef) sponges. The most powerful drugs against leukemia, blood cancer are from the reefs. If we are losing our reefs, we are killing potential drugs that could save our lives,” said Hodjson.
Coral reefs are considered as the medicine cabinet in the underwater pharmacy in the 21st century. Coral reef plants and animals are important sources of new medicines being developed to treat cancer, arthritis, human bacterial infections, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, viruses, and other common and catastrophic diseases, Hodjson added.
According to him, if every individual will cooperate and exert effort in saving the reefs, humans will not get into trouble.
Stephanie Wear, a marine scientist on the conservancy’s Global Marine Team also said that an estimated 95 percent of the world’s oceans remain unexplored which gives possibilities for more medical breaks in the future.
Wear added it is a possibility that humans might lose significance of the marine organisms without knowing they existed in the first place.
She said that people and nature are already benefiting in so many ways from the marine protected areas in which medical benefits may still lay undiscovered beneath the sea. A devastating loss of biodiversity could mean that fewer species will be around for future medicinal research and biomedical studies, Wear warned.
On the other hand, Peter Harrison, director of Marine Ecology Research in Southern Cross University Australia, said that local community has an incredibly important role to play in maintaining and restoring coral reefs in the future.
“The need for active coral restoration is now essential on many reefs, feasible small scales but logistically challenging on reefs,” he said.
Harrison said that coral reef reseeding has a vital role in restoring and rescuing the coral reefs by protecting the larvae. “From little larvae, big corals grow,” Harrison added.
Hodjson, Harrison and Wear were speakers at the 4th Asia-Paific Coral Reef Symposium (APCRS) at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu on June7-8. (With reports from Larnie L. Bacalando and Sharon Rose Flores)