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The Caribbean has been characterized as “…the most biologically rich area in the Atlantic” (Caribbean Journal, 2014). With this level of indigenous biodiversity, it is conceivable that the region could hold the secret to curing some of the 21st Century’s most challenging diseases.
The Caribbean has been characterized as “…the most biologically rich area in the Atlantic“Caribbean Journal, 2014
In fact, so significant is the connection between biodiversity and identifying useful compounds from nature, that international rules have been established to govern these activities. The 1993 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) for example, governs the activities of ‘Bioprospecting‘ as sampling of animals, plants and microorganisms for this purpose is called (Ng, 2009). Significantly, the CBD establishes national rights over biological resources, ensuring that the rights and interests of the countries of origin are protected.
The genetic diversity found in coral ecosystems is unparalleled and this diversity has proven beneficial for humans through the identification of potentially beneficial chemical compounds and through the development of medicines, both derived from organisms found in coral ecosystemsNOAA
As a further example of the importance of biodiversity, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has noted that, “The genetic diversity found in coral ecosystems is unparalleled and this diversity has proven beneficial for humans through the identification of potentially beneficial chemical compounds and through the development of medicines, both derived from organisms found in coral ecosystems” (NOAA, n.d.).
This holds particular significance for the Caribbean which is said to contain some ‘10% of the world’s coral reefs including 1,400 species of fish and marine mammals‘ (The Nature Conservancy). In this context, more so where coral ecosystems are only one of many sources of biodiversity in the region, these opportunities coupled with ingenuity of our people, could one day be the genesis of not only a home-grown, research-based pharmaceutical industry, but also a new ‘Knowledge economy‘. Already, an abundance of universities and other organizations in the region are engaged in research spanning fields including the various branches of biology, chemistry, medicine, biochemistry, biotechnology and pharmacology.
We at CaribbeanBiopharma.com fully embrace these efforts to foster research and development in the region and with a view to encouraging such scientific endeavour, this section of the site will highlight individuals, institutions and countries championing this cause.
Caribbean Journal (2014) A Big Boost for Caribbean Conservation, Caribjournal.com [Online]. Available from: http://www.caribjournal.com/2014/06/27/a-big-boost-for-caribbean-conservation/
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (n.d.) Medicine, noaa.gov. [Online]. Available from: http://coralreef.noaa.gov/aboutcorals/values/medicine/
Ng, R. (2009) Drugs: from discovery to approval. 2nd ed. New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell
The Nature Conservancy (n.d.) Caribbean:The Caribbean Challenge Initiative, nature.org [Online]. Available from http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/caribbean/caribbean-challenge.xml