The search for novel antibiotic agents, and those that exert their antimicrobial effect in different ways, is currently high on the research agenda. Here, Sarah J Pitt and Alan Gunn review an innovative approach using mucus from common molluscs.
People are increasingly conscious of what they consume in terms of both nutrition and medicines. One of the reasons cited for a reluctance to access vaccinations is because they are ‘not natural’.1 There is a common perception that complementary and alternative therapies are at least as effective as conventional medical treatments, but without the potential side-effects. Unfortunately, supporting scientific evidence is often lacking. For example, there is no conclusive evidence that homeopathic remedies have any biological effect,2 although they work well as placebos.3
Nevertheless, this does not mean that one should dismiss all ‘natural’ or ‘traditional’ medicines. Detailed investigation into the biological activity and efficacy of ancient remedies has yielded many clinically useful treatments. These include the use of willow bark in pain relief, leading to the development of aspirin,4 the identification of the anticoagulant heparin from the medicinal leech,5 and antimalarial remedies made from the qinghao or ‘sweet wormwood’ plant resulting in the drug artemisinin, and a Nobel Prize for its discoverer.6
Snails and snail products have been incorporated into medicinal products and folk remedies for thousands of years.7
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