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Cure cancer and infectious diseases with bacteria from the marine sponges
According to a microbiologist at the University of Würzburg, sea sponges can help cure serious diseases such as cancer in the future. Billions of different bacterial strains live in the sponges. The researcher is convinced that the bacteria could help to develop valuable active substances against diseases such as cancer or malaria in the future.
According to microbiologist Dr. Ute Hentschel-Humeida from the University of Würzburg will help in the future to develop agents against cancer and multi-resistant germs. The scientist told the news agency "dpa" that "the sponge is the medicine cabinet and the microbial colonizers will then deliver new active ingredients".
Countless different strains of bacteria live in the sea sponges. Some may even inhibit cancer cell division. Numerous scientists are currently conducting clinical studies to analyze active substances from the bacteria living in the sponges. The longer-term goal is to use it to determine active ingredients that can be used for infectious diseases such as malaria or sleeping sickness. "Sponges are evolutionarily very old animals that were found on Earth 600 million years ago," said the biologist.
The sponges live mainly in tropical regions of the world and stay on the sea floor or on coral reefs. The living creatures are apparently defenseless against attacks from other animals because they have no defense mechanisms. "They have no tanks, no claws, no teeth, and they cannot even run away," explains Hentschel-Humeida. But appearances are deceptive, because many researchers believe that "the animals have developed a type of chemical defense with which they can protect themselves from enemies." The same mechanisms could also help medical research. Scientists have recognized that "up to half of the biomass of many types of sponges consists of bacteria". These bacteria could then be used for new active ingredients "that can be used in medicine or in biotechnology."
So far, no drugs are available in pharmacies that were produced by sponge bacteria. On March 22nd, however, a first international congress on sponge microbiology was held in Würzburg. Around 90 researchers from 17 countries discussed future prospects and exchanged research results. The research work is still in its infancy. It still took a long time before an effective anti-cancer cell division drug was developed. Research should continue for a long time, because there are over 7,500 sponge species, some of which are only a few millimeters in size. (sb)
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