The idea that nature can yield important treatments for human ailments isn’t new. People have used active preparations for millennia, and scientists have isolated these compounds for drug development since the early 1800’s, when they first synthesized morphine from poppies. For many years, scientists looked to the soil for microbes that treated human illnesses. Around the 1980’s, scientists believed they had found all the helpful bacteria the land had to offer and they started looking to the oceans. Two scientists, Paul Jensen and William Fenical, pursued research that eventually led them to discover a treatment for a severe brain cancer known as glioblastoma that comes from microbes in the ocean. The treatment, marizomib, crosses the blood-brain barrier and is turning out to be a life-saving treatment for some people with this ailment.

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