A university facility looks for tropical medicines while its epidemiology program tries to link disease and lifestyle
HONOLULU -- An organism that Hawaiians call limu-make-o-hana thrives in the tide pools near the town of Hana, on the island of Maui, according to University of Hawaii chemist Richard Moore. And when Hawaiian warriors of the past, in search of a lethal poison, placed an exudate of this organism on their spear tips, they were on the right track, says Moore.

Palytoxin is the exudate of the limu-make-o-hana (in Hawaiian, "the deadly seaweed of Hana," a misnomer since it is a sea anemone-like organism and not a seaweed). It is one of the most deadly cytotoxins known to man. One day, thanks to the efforts of Moore and colleagues at the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii (CRCH), palytoxin may be mounted on antibodies instead of spears for use as an immunotoxin in...

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