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For many years, traditional pharmacognosy was focused on the investigation and identification of medically important plants and animals in the terrestrial environment. With the development of the open-circuit self contained underwater breathing apparatus or SCUBA in the 1940's, some chemists turned to more pioneering work looking for new medicines in the marine environment. In the United States, the road has been long for the first FDA approval of a drug direct from the sea, but in 2004, the approval of ziconotide isolated from a marine cone snail has paved the way for other marine-derived compounds moving through clinical trials. With an estimated 75% of the earth’s surface covered by water, research into the chemistry of marine organisms is relatively unexplored and represents a vast resource for new medicines to combat major diseases such as cancer, AIDS or malaria. Research typically focuses on slow moving or sessile organisms because of their inherent need for chemical defenses. Standard research involves an extraction of the organism in a suitable solvent followed by either an assay of this crude extract for a particular disease target or a rationally guided isolation of new chemical compounds using standard chromatography techniques.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Marine_Pharmacognosy". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|