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Medicine from the Sea

These resin beads are part of a process that WHOI scientists have used to search for potential chemical compounds made by microbes in the ocean, which could help combat disease. Bioprospecting for medicinal compounds is not new—penicillin, for example, was derived from soil bacteria. But exploring marine microbes is relatively recent. The researchers grow cultures of various marine microbes in flasks and insert cloth bags filled with beads. Chemical compounds made by the microbes stick to the beads, which then are processed to remove the compounds, so that scientists can analyze their potential to fight diseases such as cystic fibrosis. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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