Amphibians are prominently featured in a new book that explains how a loss of biodiversity hurts medicine. The book, “Sustaining Life: How Human Life Depends On Biodiversity,” was written by Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein from the Center of Health and the Global Environment of the Harvard Medical School. The forward was written by Edward O. Wilson. Below are excerpts from a Reuters news story. But the bottom line is this: put these endangered species on “the ark” — the rescue program directed through Amphibian Ark — or lose more medical breakthroughs that would improve the human condition.
April 24, 2008
Harvard authors: lose amphibians, lose medical curesPosted by pleasecroak under medical research | Tags: aaron bernstein, African Clawed Frog, Amphibian Ark, amphibians, bell toad, book, center of health and global environment, eric chivian, Frog, gastric brooding, Gastric-brooder, harvard medical school, medical research, sustaining life |
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The book highlights many examples of potential drugs. The southern gastric brooding frog, found in Australian rainforest in the 1980s, raised their young in the female’s stomach using enzymes that preliminary studies showed could be used to treat human ulcers. But the frogs became extinct.
“The valuable medical secrets they held are now gone forever,” said Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein, the key authors of the book from the Center of Health and the Global Environment of the Harvard Medical School, in a statement released by the United Nations on Wednesday.
Treatments from frogs alone include toxins from the Panamanian Poison Frog that could be useful for heart disease, painkillers from the Ecuadorian Poison Frog, anti-bacterial compounds from the skin of the African Clawed Frog, and compounds from the Chinese Large-Webbed Bell Toad that dilate blood vessels and so could treat high blood pressure.
Frog glue could repair cartilage and other tissue tears in humans, but climatic changes have to led to habitat loss and mutations in frogs. The United Nations is leading talks for a new climate pact to limit emissions of heat-trapping gases.
“Amphibians are particularly sensitive,” said Achim Steiner of the U.N. Environment Programme, in a press conference at an environment summit in Singapore.