Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Opportunities Lost

AKA: Why we need to protect the environment.

ResearchBlogging.org... this past weekend I was invited out to dinner. While there I was engaged in a very interesting discussion with some other people about the environment and alternative fuel sources. One person suggested that we dam up all the local rivers and use them for hydroelectric power. I commented that this would disrupt local ecosystems, which in turn would have a detrimental effect on a number of species in those locales, possibly resulting in extinction of more than a few of them. Some of which we may not even know exist.

The reply? If they can't manage to get around the dams, to hell with them.

This report is support for my own position. Once we start damaging ecosystems, we run the risk of losing species. When we do so, we may actually be reducing our own ability to identify and develop extremely useful treatments for our own medical benefit. That is supported by the data reported on in this manuscript.

In addition, there is a massive largely, currently untapped, repository of bacterial species, currently unclassified ... most not even known to exist ... which may carry defenses which we could develop for antimicrobial therapies. Metagenomics will eventually be able to identify such antimicrobials, but if we wipe out those environments before we ever get to test them ... it is an opportunity lost.

Mangoni, M., Maisetta, G., Di Luca, M., Gaddi, L., Esin, S., Florio, W., Brancatisano, F., Barra, D., Campa, M., & Batoni, G. (2007). Comparative Analysis of the Bactericidal Activities of Amphibian Peptide Analogues against Multidrug-Resistant Nosocomial Bacterial Strains Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 52 (1), 85-91 DOI: 10.1128/AAC.00796-07

Okuyama-Nishida et al. Prevention of Death in Bacterium-Infected Mice by a Synthetic Antimicrobial Peptide, L5, through Activation of Host Immunity. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 2009; 53 (6): 2510 DOI: 10.1128/AAC.00863-08

No comments: