Marine Animals: Clear Models For Medical Science

The icefish totally lacks red blood cells or hemoglobin. Is it possible that this fish has a secret to share with human anemics? The male anglerfish grafts itself to the female in order to reproduce. What if scientists could learn how better to overcome transplantation incompatibility from the angler couple? Sharks rarely develop cancerous tumors. Do they benefit from an as yet undetected protective mechanism against malignant neoplasms that could prove useful in treating human cancer victims?

Albert Smith
May 29, 1988
The icefish totally lacks red blood cells or hemoglobin. Is it possible that this fish has a secret to share with human anemics? The male anglerfish grafts itself to the female in order to reproduce. What if scientists could learn how better to overcome transplantation incompatibility from the angler couple? Sharks rarely develop cancerous tumors. Do they benefit from an as yet undetected protective mechanism against malignant neoplasms that could prove useful in treating human cancer victims?

Marine biology clearly has much to offer medical research. Yet discourse between these two fields has been all too infrequent. It should not remain so.

Medical researchers typically use mammals, such as monkeys, rabbits, and mice, in their investigations. Marine animals, representing the largest and most diverse assemblage of creatures on earth, are rarely used, despite common fundamental processes (immunity, metabolism, inflammation, to name only a few) that they share with humans. In...