MA - Of Science and Sea Urchins: Researchers Plumb Oceans for Biological Insights

The ocean is home to more biodiversity than anywhere else on the planet—making it a largely untapped source of opportunity for researchers studying marine organisms as a source of novel drug leads.

“The unique adaptations of marine organisms have made them valuable models for biomedical research, enhancing our understanding of fundamental biological processes, such as nerve function, immune system function, and cell division,” Andrea Bodnar, science director at the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute, tells Xconomy.

Dubbed the “mouse model of the sea,” the sea urchin is among the organisms providing researchers with new insights.

“[Sea urchins] facilitate lines of inquiry for questions that cannot be answered using traditional research models, such as questions relating to tissue regeneration and healthy longevity,” says Bodnar, whose main interest in the sea creature is as a model for better understanding aging and resistance to cancer.

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