Sea sponges are ocean invertebrates — animals without backbones.
These unassuming creatures may also be life savers for millions of people.
Since they can’t move on their own, they survive by building up chemicals to fend off predators. It turns out that one of these chemicals, ‘Manzamine A’, has myriad medical uses.
The compound has been successful in treating malaria, destroying Herpes Simplex 1, and proven effective in certain antibiotics.
‘Manzamine A’ has also been found to stop cervical, prostate, and other cancers in their tracks by preventing the replication of the harmful cells, while leaving healthy cells alone.
A particular sponge species found in the Gulf of Mexico is being used to treat breast cancer, while sea sponge skeletons are being studied as ways to grow bones for grafting and dental implants.
As scientists continue to discover new medicinal uses, the opportunity to farm sea sponges opens up income opportunities to impoverished coastal regions.
Cultivating the sponges comes with an added bonus — they’re filter feeders that thrive in polluted areas, cleaning and purifying dirty water.
Once again, the Earth provides just what we need as these small, simple, ancient creatures help clean the planet and our bodies as well.