Medical Research - Conservation of Wildlife
Many animal species are used to test drugs and vaccines and to increase our understanding of human health and disease. The nine-banded armadillo for example is being used to study leprosy and prepare a vaccine for this disease. This disease has been a curse to humankind since ancient times, and a cure has been difficult to find, because the bacteria that cause the disease grow in humans but not in laboratory conditions. This was a major problem in developing a vaccine.
However, in 1971 it was discovered that the bacteria flourished in the nine-banded armadillo. Fortunately, that species is with us. Scientists now have a good opportunity to study and perhaps someday to conquer leprosy. Similarly, the Florida manatee, an endangered mammal, is being used to help understand haemophilia. It is believed that many new drugs would come from currently unclassified plant and animal species, mostly located in the tropical forests and oceans. For example, an estimated 10% of the world's marine species contain anti-cancer chemicals.