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Corals and Their Potential Applications to Integrative Medicine

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Over the last few years, we have pursued the use and exploitation of invertebrate immune systems, most notably their humoral products, to determine what effects their complex molecules might exert on humans, specifically their potential for therapeutic applications. This endeavor, called "bioprospecting," is an emerging necessity for biomedical research. In order to treat the currently "untreatable," or to discover more efficient treatment modalities, all options and potential sources must be exhausted so that we can provide the best care to patients, that is, proceed from forest and ocean ecosystems through the laboratory to the bedside. Here, we review current research findings that have yielded therapeutic benefits, particularly as derived from soft and hard corals. Several applications have already been demonstrated, including anti-inflammatory properties, anticancer properties, bone repair, and neurological benefits.

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