30 July 2008

toxic gowanus hotbed of medical discovery

Ah, the Gowanus Canal, glowing radioactive green. Reflecting the scrap metal heap and its cranes, reminiscent of brontosaurus eating lunch. How can anyone not appreciate the toxic splendor of thee?

If you're not familiar with the much-discussed (at least in Brooklyn), much-joked-about waterway, here's a taste:
(MMmmm, delish!)

It turns out, surprisingly enough, oil slicks and various toxins aren't the only things swirling around in there. A team of researchers --New York City College of Technology Biology Professors Nasreen and Niloufar Haque -- has determined the Gowanus is a breeding ground for future medical agents, specifically antibiotics.

An excerpt:

"Despite the canal’s toxicity, which includes cancer-causing chemical agents,” explained Nasreen, “microorganisms are surviving by adapting to the harsh environment there that shouldn’t survive at all. Working in synergy, they seem to sense if nutrients are available; they exchange genes and secrete substances — some of which operate like antibiotics. I believe these substances may provide clues that lead to the development of new drugs to combat human disease.
Who knew?
Read the whole story here.

[Newswise via Gowanus Lounge]

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