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Arctic Bioprospecting Rush September 12, 2008
Arctic Environment Image
Some cold-adapted species in the Arctic may provide clues to treat human diseases.
Arctic melting is giving biotechnology researchers a fresh opportunity to develop products and treatments from DNA found in Arctic plants and animals.

Companies are trying to exploit the new biological frontier to develop products ranging from ice cream to anti-stroke medications, said David Leary, an international lawyer with the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies.

Biodiversity exploration had primarily been focused on the Amazon and other tropical areas until recent expeditions into the Arctic.

One company is using “antifreeze proteins” found in Arctic plants and animals to improve the texture, taste and safety of frozen foods.

Another company is attempting to use proteins from the Arctic squirrel, which can lower its temperature to below freezing, to help stroke victims recover more quickly.

Photo: NOAA