Thursday, 26 May 2011

Nature's Medicine Cabinet

The superlative Radio 4 has a great series called 'Costing the Earth'.  This week's episode is called "Nature's Medicine Cabinet" which looks at medicinal cures sourced from plants and animals ('borrowing drugs from nature'):
  • "Take the venom from a scorpion, the suckers from a starfish and the sting from a bee. You won't create a spell to turn a prince into a frog but you might just find a new anti-asthma spray, a way to prevent the failure of heart by-passes or the answer to drug-resistant bacteria.

    Rapid advances in genetic research are throwing open the medical treasure chest of the natural world. Chemicals that perform a clear function for a plant or animal can be isolated, studied and, in some cases, applied to complex medical problems.

    This is obviously good news for patients but could it also be good news for endangered wildlife? Could we soon be concentrating our limited conservation resources on saving the plants and animals that offer up something to humanity?

    Dr. Alice Roberts and medical writer John Naish explore nature's medicine cabinet and consider the ethical dilemmas."

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