Sea urchins are being used by some researchers to search for cures for diseases including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and some types of cancer. Although you might not think so from looking at them, sea urchins actually have a large number of genes similar to ours – and the fact that they are much simpler animals than us makes it relatively easy for scientists to study how a sea urchin’s genome works. By studying sea urchin genes, researchers hope to find ways to address genetic tendencies toward disease in humans. This is just one of many examples of how un-glamorous creatures can help us in unexpected ways, making the preservation of global biodiversity incredibly important.
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