Monday, April 04, 2005

Hunt for medicine in the seabottom begins

[World News] FORT PIERCE, Fla.,, April 4 : An ocean research organization from Fort Pierce, Fla.,, is spending the next two weeks in the Florida Straits north of Cuba looking for medicines.

The exploration includes the first submersible exploration of the Cay Sal Bank, a 60-mile wide sand bank fringed by a number of small uninhabited islands 30 miles off the Cuban coast.

The researchers are looking for organisms that produce chemicals with the potential to cure diseases such as cancer and Alzheimers.

"We don't really know what organisms to expect," said Dr. Amy Wright, who heads the Harbor Branch Marine Research Group.

"Given the difference in the habitat, we expect to find some new species that we haven't collected before.That's why we're going," she said.

The expedition also includes exploration aboard a submersible on the Miami-Terrace, a 60-mile long, deep-water reef east of south Florida.

The researchers will try to gather samples of a species of sponge found last May that produces chemical that show potential for fighting pancreatic cancer.

- -- Copyright 2005 by United Press International.


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