Australian Geographic

JELLYFISH MEDICINE

It might sound surprising, but major breakthrou­ghs in human health have come via research into jellyfish.

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FRENCH PHYSIOLOGI­ST Charles Richet won the Nobel prize in medicine in 1913 after discoverin­g the condition now known as anaphylaxi­s. The breakthrou­gh came while he was studying how dogs responded to stings by the Portuguese man o’ war, a close relative of the bluebottle. The 2008 Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to a team of researcher­s “for the discovery and developmen­t of the green fluorescen­t protein” from the crystal jellyfish Aequorea victoria. This protein has since become one of the most important tools in modern bioscience – critical, for example, in work on a range of diseases from Alzheimer’s and diabetes to cancer.

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