Nightly News | April 19, 2012
>> world. our planet as we mark earth week at nbc universal with an example of how connected we are to the environment. effective cancer treatments are being discovered. more than that, their building blocks come from the ocean, which is just one more reason to protect it. our chief foreign environmental affairs correspondent anne thompson has our report from key west , florida.
>> the kaleidoscope of light in the coral reef under the turquoise water of the florida keys is a magnet for tourists. does all of this help you preserve the reef?
>> i think ultimately it does, people become advocates for the reef.
>> the nature conservancy 's stephanie reed things this could help. it may help people, too.
>> what we're doing is taking advantage of the chemistry and turning the chemicals into drugs to save lives.
>> scientists thing the reefs could yield new therapies for alzheimer's disease, parkinson's and lupus. all because of the success they'll had for drugs to beat cancer. this woman had help from a chemotherapy drug originally derived from a sea sponge . without it, she said she could have died at age 26. did you ever mage what could make you better would come from the sea?
>> not at all. i spent most of my life swiving in the ocean, but i didn't aseem it would have anything to do with my cancer.
>> without the reef and doing that conservation, we have no starting point.
>> dr. edwards developed new drugs at esan, a drug that produced a drug for cancer.
>> in order to make this drug by synthesis, we would require over 60 steps. the typical drug is about ten steps or less.
>> scientists need just a small sample from the reef to unlock the history, but they do need the reefs.
>> it's like the new york city of the ocean, where everything is happenish, lussal, bustle, neon lights .
>> it could make a big krbtion for the oceans and mankind.