Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Manatees, Not Just For Dinner Anymore

          It seems that the venerable manatee is not only good for stew, but can also be the source of life-saving research.

            Researchers at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution in Ft. Pierce, Fl. Have discovered that a virus found in manatees is similar to the one that causes cervical cancer in women. 

            By studying manatees who seem to have a great resistance to normal viruses, researchers hope they understand better the disease that kills 200,000 women a year worldwide. 

            Greg Bossart, director of Marine Mammal Research & Conservation at Harbor Branch discovered the virus called papilloma virus in manatees about four years ago. Manatees have never been shown to be susceptible to viruses before. “Natural disease in manatees is almost never heard of. Their ability to fight disease is well developed. Therefore, sea cows may also be a model to investigate HIV,” said Bossart.

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