Chimp diet opens new ways 4 treating diseases + Antibiotic pollution a global threat

Chimpanzees eat plants that point to new ways of treating diseases

EXCERPT: As cancer and other non-infectious diseases continue to rise all over the world it's become harder for scientists to find safe, effective treatments. [...] These challenges have led to searches for new solutions, including natural substances, like medicinal plants. [...] I have been working with a group of scientists to find new ways to exploit plants for medicinal purposes. As part of the process we studied the eating habits and behaviour of some wild chimpanzees based at the Taï National Park in the south western region of Côte d'Ivoire. We identified what they ate, which included leaves, fruit and the stems of the plants. We then tested these in a laboratory.

Our idea followed on from a previous study on the park's chimpanzees which focused on the energy and protein balance in their diets. Our study focused on the medicinal properties of what they ate. Our results suggest that the diets of chimpanzees are made up of plants that are a rich source of compounds that improve their immune systems and protect them from certain diseases. Our findings have opened the door to exploring the properties of these plants to test their ability to treat disease in humans....


Why antibiotic pollution is a global threat

EXCERPT: Our environment is contaminated with antibiotics. While this is often at a dilute level, sometimes the concentrations are surprisingly high. There is a growing recognition that this is a public health issue. Antibiotic resistance accounts for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year and is a major global health threat. [...] A bacterium may mutate and gain a small advantage in the presence of an antibiotic.

[...] When we use an antibiotic, typically between 30–90% of the active compound will get excreted and flushed down the loo. This means sewage plants are chock full of a city’s medicines. But humans are not the only source. Globally, two-thirds of antibiotics produced are used on animals. They secrete them onto land and into slurry pits, which can run off into rivers, lakes or groundwater. In low- and middle-income countries, fish farms also produce antibiotic waste. And finally there is waste from pharmaceutical factories, which can also pollute waterways.

[...] Blanketing the environment results in conditions that encourage bacteria to evolve ways to protect themselves. Worse, these bacteria, most of which are strains harmless to humans, can then share this resistance mechanism with disease-causing microbes. Antibiotics also offer a competitive advantage to any bug that already has a ready-made antidote or is unaffected by that particular drug, resulting in blooming populations that would otherwise have been kept in check....


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