Tuesday, December 24, 2013

New Glowing Worms Could Lead To Huge Medical Advancements

My opinion:  We read daily of strange medical problems that you think would be easily avoided.  For example, the woman who was given a c-section with no baby inside.  I was also just reading about a woman who had a towel lodged near her lung for seven years after doctors forgot to remove it after a surgery.  This article suggests that there are many more ways to see inside the body than we currently have, which could alleviate diagnostic techniques.  Later in the article, it mentions that this new glowing compound is stable in areas without oxygen.  Hence, doctors may be able to examine more tissues where oxygen isn't present to detect cancers and other diseases.  Not to mention that a tremendous number of researchers rely on bioluminescence, making this discovery even more crucial.  Are there any other ways to see through the body, like new types of imaging?  Feel free to comment.

The Strange Glow of a Common Worm Could Lead to New Medical Technologies


Scientists estimate that 30 to 40 bioluminescent chemical compounds exist in living organisms such as beetles and bacteria. Of those, we only have good knowledge of about five, says Dimitri Deheyn, a marine biologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Recently Deheyn and a team of researchers, including three from Connecticut College, took on the challenge of studying the mysterious luminescent mechanisms behind a common marine worm that hasn’t been studied in more than 50 years. The “parchment tube worm,” or Chaetopterus variopedatus, fluoresces a green glow when stimulated by ultraviolet light. It also releases puffs of mucus that give off a long-lasting blue glow. The worm spends its life in a self-made sediment tube, and its habitat ranges across most of the world’s oceans.
The mucus is unique partly because of its longevity and partly because of its color. In the sea water in which the segmented worms live, bioluminescence from other organisms usually appears in fleeting green flashes. In contrast, the glow of the mucus can last up to several hours. And it glows blue.

From: http://www.scientificamerican.com/gallery_directory.cfm?photo_id=DD3056F7-0E44-F59F-8E9868EF1784D6B4

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