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Compound from Coral Could Combat Cancer - Nature holds treasure trove of 'new' compounds
Scientific American ^ | March 13, 2006 | David Biello

Posted on 03/16/2006 6:31:39 AM PST by S0122017

March 13, 2006

Compound from Coral Could Combat Cancer

Natural compounds have proven to be a treasure trove of medicinal properties. For example, the bark of the Pacific yew tree yielded a compound that has helped battle some forms of cancer. Such finds have led to a new industry--bioprospecting--and such prospectors have fanned out across the globe in search of nature's remedies. Now a compound isolated from coral collected off the coast of Okinawa has shown the ability to slow down and possibly prevent virus replication and it may hold promise as a cancer treatment. Isis hippuris is a yellow, branching coral found in the tropical waters of the western Pacific. By grinding it up and treating it with methanol, researchers isolated a natural steroid, dubbed hippuristanol. Biochemist Jerry Pelletier of McGill University and his colleagues tested this steroid's therapeutic abilities. In vitro and in vivo, the steroid blocked a critical step in the process that allows a virus to thrive.

Antibiotics and other modern medicines do not work on viruses because these radically simple organisms infiltrate cells and hijack their processes to serve their own purposes. Such a hijacker virus uses cellular machinery to control the process of building proteins and thereby replicates itself. Based on the team's research, published online yesterday in Nature Chemical Biology, hippuristanol stops this process by inhibiting the function of a protein--eIF4A--that acts as a molecular motor, which the virus relies on to make proteins. "You can selectively block production of proteins from viral mRNAs that rely more heavily on this factor," Pelletier says. "It's very clean in the way it acts on this protein. It's very selective in its mechanism and it doesn't appear to have off-target effects."

These experiments showed that hippuristanol slowed the replication of poliovirus without stopping protein creation in uninfected cells. And because this process appears to spiral out of control in some cancers, hippuristanol might also prove to be a potent chemotherapy. "Any compound that targets these factors opens up a new therapeutic avenue for cancer," Pelletier notes. The only problem will be ensuring a steady supply of the promising compound without denuding the western Pacific's reefs. --David Biello


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: cancer; compound; coral; ecoping; environment; health; medicine; natural

1 posted on 03/16/2006 6:31:43 AM PST by S0122017
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To: GreenFreeper

ping!


2 posted on 03/16/2006 6:31:58 AM PST by S0122017
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To: S0122017

Impossible - all the reefs bleached and died off due to global warming.


3 posted on 03/16/2006 6:35:23 AM PST by Spirochete
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To: S0122017
Compound from Coral Could Combat Cancer

Crikey!

4 posted on 03/16/2006 6:38:40 AM PST by martin_fierro (_____oooo_( ° ¿ ° )_oooo_____)
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To: martin_fierro

No kidding !! Carrumba and Cripie! What's with the Cs??


5 posted on 03/16/2006 6:41:28 AM PST by bboop (Stealth Tutor)
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To: S0122017

Fortunately this is a soft coral, and not on the menu of the dreaded Crown of Thorns star.


6 posted on 03/16/2006 6:59:32 AM PST by Renderofveils (Qur’an 8:39 “So, fight them until all opposition ends and the only religion is Islam.”)
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To: Renderofveils

Crown of Thorns... yuck!

I know how deadly to the coral that thing is, so when I see one, I spear it and cut it into many small pieces and leave it in the ocean for the fish to eat.

;)


7 posted on 03/16/2006 7:10:19 AM PST by Jemian (He is no fool to give up what he cannot keep, in order to gain what he cannot lose. -Jim Elliot)
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To: Renderofveils
Fortunately this is a soft coral

The photo looks like Pocillipora or Montipora.

8 posted on 03/16/2006 7:11:42 AM PST by Spirochete
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To: bboop

Headline creator is crazy.


9 posted on 03/16/2006 7:15:35 AM PST by Jemian (He is no fool to give up what he cannot keep, in order to gain what he cannot lose. -Jim Elliot)
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To: Jemian
Crown of Thorns... yuck! I know how deadly to the coral that thing is, so when I see one, I spear it and cut it into many small pieces and leave it in the ocean for the fish to eat.

Do you also break the central disc in pieces? http://oceanlink.island.net/ask/echino.html#anchor362230
10 posted on 03/16/2006 7:32:16 AM PST by S0122017
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To: S0122017; LionsDaughter

No. I have learned something today.

I understood that a starfish will regenerate from anybody part. In fact, in my daughter's high school marine biology course they were taught that if you cut up a star, put the pieces in a blender with sea water, make a slurry of the stuff, then allow it to sit in a viable sea water aquarium, the slurry would clump and then regenerate into billions of stars.

BTW, I would NEVER cut up a crown and leave the pieces in the water. I would spear them, collect them in a bag and leave the bag up on shore in the hot sun. Crown of Thorns decimate coral in a short amount of time. I've seen that personally.


11 posted on 03/16/2006 7:38:00 AM PST by Jemian (He is no fool to give up what he cannot keep, in order to gain what he cannot lose. -Jim Elliot)
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To: Jemian

Only one star seems to be able to regenerate from the arms, the other stars can only regenerate from the central disc (or perhaps from large pieces of the central disc?).
Maybe you can try it out! Only way to know for sure.


12 posted on 03/16/2006 7:40:38 AM PST by S0122017
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To: S0122017; LionsDaughter

I think I will. I'm not in a location right now where that is feasible. But in mid-July I will be in the South Pacific and I'll set up a few experiments.


13 posted on 03/16/2006 7:43:07 AM PST by Jemian (He is no fool to give up what he cannot keep, in order to gain what he cannot lose. -Jim Elliot)
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To: S0122017

Aren't coral reefs all over the planet "endangered"? How long before the people who scream about the rape of nature become aware of this possible cure/alleviate, and start screaming when and if coral reefs are harvested?

Many might die due to court orders, injunctions, protests and assorted eco-terrorism.

I've become more and more convinced over the years that the problem with Tree Huggers is not that they love nature so much; it's that they hate humanity that much more.


14 posted on 03/16/2006 7:47:46 AM PST by Wombat101 (Islam: Turning everything it touches to Shi'ite since 632 AD...)
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To: Jemian

Let me know the results!


15 posted on 03/16/2006 7:50:03 AM PST by S0122017
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To: Wombat101
Aren't coral reefs all over the planet "endangered"? How long before the people who scream about the rape of nature become aware of this possible cure/alleviate, and start screaming when and if coral reefs are harvested? Many might die due to court orders, injunctions, protests and assorted eco-terrorism. I've become more and more convinced over the years that the problem with Tree Huggers is not that they love nature so much; it's that they hate humanity that much more.

There is no need to put quotations around endangered. Many reefs are endangered, and look like a warzone compared to how they used to look like. Ofcourse not EVERY type of coral is endangered, and there are gradations of endangered aswell. Similar how some say the economy is sort of endangered in America, but is near death somewhere else. In any case, in order to harvest compounds from corals you will need to protect them and find a way to culture them, so it is unlikely to attract the wrath of environmentalists.
16 posted on 03/16/2006 8:34:46 AM PST by S0122017
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To: S0122017

The use of quotes was to convey my opinion that the word endangered is used far too often, and is often used as a convenient excuse to halt progress by the Greenie Meanines (just label something endangered and you get your court order).


17 posted on 03/16/2006 8:45:20 AM PST by Wombat101 (Islam: Turning everything it touches to Shi'ite since 632 AD...)
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To: Wombat101

Yes, it does get abused sometimes. Which probably does more damage to nature than any machine could have, if you abuse something too often it may loose it's validity.


18 posted on 03/16/2006 9:00:26 AM PST by S0122017
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To: S0122017; blam; Carry_Okie; Chanticleer; ClearCase_guy; cogitator; CollegeRepublican; ...
ECO-PING

FReepmail me to be added or removed to the ECO-PING list!

Save the Coral...so we can save people...ooops then you'd endanger the coral.

19 posted on 03/16/2006 1:00:49 PM PST by GreenFreeper (Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress)
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To: GreenFreeper
" Save the Coral...so we can save people...ooops then you'd endanger the coral."
I am quite busy on a number of Iraqi/Iranian postings, but after a quick read, as usual there is a two edged sword.
A quick thought. Years back I maintained Marine Aquariums as a hobby. And in so doing, visited some early on weg sites. One was a site was sponsored by a company the breeds many form of coral, literally back then many dozens of species. They had perfected methods of cutting pieces off of originals and reproducing large numbers for sale. There could be ways of obtaining a number of this species and bredding them for use by researchers.
20 posted on 03/16/2006 1:27:27 PM PST by Marine_Uncle (Honor must be earned)
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To: Spirochete
The photo looks like Pocillipora or Montipora.

It's actually a Gorgonian... the photo is slightly misleading. ;)
21 posted on 03/16/2006 2:49:19 PM PST by Renderofveils (Qur’an 8:39 “So, fight them until all opposition ends and the only religion is Islam.”)
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To: Marine_Uncle

I read something about using electricity to speed up coral growth. They found (and are already applying) low electricity fields around coral, which seems to speed up the growth a lot compared to unaided coral. It may have something to do with calcium deposition.


22 posted on 03/17/2006 2:30:15 AM PST by S0122017
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To: Marine_Uncle

coral farming?


23 posted on 03/17/2006 5:22:50 AM PST by Chanticleer (Let us speak courteously, deal fairly, and keep ourselves armed and ready. T. Roosevelt)
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To: S0122017
"I read something about using electricity to speed up coral growth. They found (and are already applying) low electricity fields around coral, which seems to speed up the growth a lot compared to unaided coral. It may have something to do with calcium deposition."
You could be right on the money.
24 posted on 03/17/2006 11:36:43 AM PST by Marine_Uncle (Honor must be earned)
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To: Chanticleer
"coral farming?"
Yes. I no longer have links to those company web sites. Since then, I had moved and no longer maintain Marine aquariums. Nor the library of Marine funa etc., I had accumulated over a number of years. In short, it is no longer a hobby for me. So I am out of the loop on these type discussions.
25 posted on 03/17/2006 11:39:13 AM PST by Marine_Uncle (Honor must be earned)
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To: neverdem; SunkenCiv; Lil'freeper; cyborg; redhead


26 posted on 03/23/2006 4:32:37 PM PST by Coleus (What were Ted Kennedy & his nephew doing on Good Friday, 1991? Getting drunk and raping women)
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