Agriculture
Watching out for vultures
Keeping Bugs Away from Food
Earth-Friendly Fabrics
Amphibians
Newts
Frogs and Toads
Bullfrogs
Animals
Insect Stowaways
Cool Penguins
Poor Devils
Behavior
Giving Sharks Safe Homes
A Global Warming Flap
The Science Fair Circuit
Birds
Rheas
A Meal Plan for Birds
Geese
Chemistry and Materials
Big Machine Reveals Small Worlds
The newest superheavy in town
The hottest soup in New York
Computers
Small but WISE
Computers with Attitude
Music of the Future
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Dino Babies
A Rainforest Trapped in Amber
A Living Fossil
E Learning Jamaica
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
Earth
Groundwater and the Water Cycle
Plastic-munching microbes
On the Trail of America's Next Top Scientists
Environment
Toxic Cleanups Get a Microbe Boost
Shrimpy Invaders
City Trees Beat Country Trees
Finding the Past
Childhood's Long History
Words of the Distant Past
A Plankhouse Past
Fish
Pygmy Sharks
Tuna
Hagfish
Food and Nutrition
The mercury in that tuna
Chew for Health
Making good, brown fat
GSAT English Rules
Finding Subjects and Verbs
Adjectives and Adverbs
Pronouns
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
How are students placed after passing the GSAT exam
10 Common Mistakes When Preparing for the GSAT Math Test
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT Scholarship
Access denied - Disabled boy aces GSAT
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
GSAT Mathematics
Prime Time for Cicadas
Setting a Prime Number Record
Math of the World
Human Body
Music in the Brain
Prime Time for Broken Bones
Smiles Turn Away Colds
Invertebrates
Flatworms
Butterflies
Krill
Mammals
Bears
Koalas
Humpback Whales
Parents
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
Expert report highlights the importance to parents of reading to children!
Physics
The Pressure of Scuba Diving
Spin, Splat, and Scramble
One ring around them all
Plants
Fastest Plant on Earth
Nature's Alphabet
Tracking the Sun Improves Plant Pollen
Reptiles
Caimans
Gila Monsters
Tortoises
Space and Astronomy
Unveiling Titan
Asteroid Lost and Found
Return to Space
Technology and Engineering
A Micro-Dose of Your Own Medicine
Spinach Power for Solar Cells
Model Plane Flies the Atlantic
The Parts of Speech
Problems with Prepositions
What is a Noun
What is a Verb?
Transportation
Reach for the Sky
Flying the Hyper Skies
Revving Up Green Machines
Weather
Weekend Weather Really Is Different
The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence
In Antarctica watch the heat (and your step)
Add your Article

Nature's Medicines

You would probably never think to slap a stingray on a scraped knee. Eighteen-year-old Ben Powell, however, has found compounds on a stingray's skin that may help fight infections. Several clues had pointed to the possibility that there might be something special about stingray skin. Atlantic stingrays, for example, can deal with microbes in both fresh water and seawater. Sharks, which have a similar type of skin, sometimes nibble on each other but don't appear to get skin infections. "I figured something had to be going on," Ben says. He's a senior at Sarasota High School in Sarasota, Fla. Ben presented his research results last month at the 2005 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Phoenix, Ariz. He was one of a record 1,447 high school students from 45 countries who participated in the fair. The young scientists competed for more than $3 million in scholarships, trips, and other prizes. Slimy stuff Ben's project was one of several at ISEF that focused on medical treatments that may be lurking in nature. An internship at Mote Marine Laboratory near his home inspired Ben's interest in stingrays. When he started working there 2 years ago, he spent most of his time feeding the aquarium's sharks, skates, and stingrays. Eventually, Ben started talking to doctors at the lab. They were conducting medical research on the animals. Among the things that Ben learned was that young trout and salmon produce chemicals that appear to fight cancer. Ben wondered whether stingrays might also produce chemicals that have a beneficial effect. He had noticed that stingrays rarely get sick, even though they live in an environment full of disease-causing bacteria. He hypothesized that stingrays might have microbe-fighting powers. To test his idea, Ben studied mucus that had been scraped off the skin of stingrays living at the aquarium. Through a series of experiments, he discovered several proteins in the mucus that killed bacteria. This summer, Ben plans to see whether a stingray's mucous proteins can kill bacteria among a mammal's blood cells. The ultimate goal would be to copy stingray biology to produce new types of antibiotic medicines for people. Down with swelling The idea that stingray mucus could harbor medicine may sound unusual, but pursuing unusual ideas is one mark of a successful researcher, says Kels Phelps. He's a 17-year-old junior at Butte High School in Butte, Montana. "In the search for new medicines," Kels says, "it's important to cover all the bases." Like Ben, Kels found a possible source for medicine not in a drugstore, but in nature. For his project, Kels studied a plant called Yucca glauca, which grows naturally in Montana. The Cheyenne Indians have long used yucca plants as medicine. They believe yucca reduces inflammation, or swelling, just as Advil, Aleve, and other common medications do. Kels was interested in investigating the chemistry behind the Indian claim. Inflammation is what happens to your ankle after you twist it or to your arm after an allergic reaction to a bee sting. You probably feel pain and notice puffiness in the area of the injury. These signs of injury typically go away after a few days. Inflammation that doesn't go away is a major cause of discomfort and complications in a number of serious diseases, including multiple sclerosis (MS), arthritis, and Huntington's disease. In these cases, certain enzymes in the body become overactive and cause excessive inflammation. Kels began by separating yucca plants into their parts: roots, stems, and flowers. He soaked the parts in a special solution. Then, he extracted promising chemical compounds from the mixtures. His lab experiments showed that these compounds were good at fighting certain types of microbes. "I took a step toward proving that yucca has anti-inflammatory properties," Kels says. His work also showed him how much nature has to offer and how little we know about the world around us. "As far as the vast number of plants out there and the small amount of research done on them," he says, "there's a huge, untapped resource for the next generation of medicines." Green tea Iddoshe Hirpa tapped into this enormous resource for her project on green tea. She had heard about possible health benefits and anticancer properties of the green tea plant (called Camellia sinensis), and she wanted to learn more. "Both my parents are from Africa," says the 15-year-old 10th grader from duPont Manual Magnet High School in Louisville, Kentucky. "People there don't have access to all the medicines we have here." Iddoshe worked with a chemical called EGCG, which occurs naturally in green tea. Past research had suggested that EGCG fights inflammation. For her experiments, Iddoshe applied three different concentrations of EGCG to proteins that cause inflammation in the brains of people who suffer from MS. She found that the highest concentration of EGCG she used destroyed the most proteins. This result confirms, she says, that green tea really can reduce inflammation. ddoshe was so impressed by her results that she started buying and drinking green tea (which she loads with milk and sugar to make it taste good). Lately, though, she's fallen out of the habit. "I feel even worse now because I know how good it is for you," she says. "It's so embarrassing." Even as Iddoshe struggles to make green tea part of her daily routine, she has learned an important lesson from her work. "It's a wakeup call to people," she says. The more we destroy nature, the more we destroy possibilities for healing our own problems. "There are so many things nature could give us." Achievements ISEF projects show just how much students can achieve when they pursue a passion, says Intel's Craig Barrett. Intel sponsored the competition along with more than 70 other organizations, government agencies, universities, and corporations. "I have faith this new generation of young scientists and engineers will help cure diseases, protect the environment, and develop breakthrough technologies that will one day change the world," Barrett says. If Ben, Kels, and Iddoshe are any indication, the next generation is already partway there.

Nature's Medicines
Nature's Medicines








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™