Coral reefs are sometimes considered the medicine cabinets of the 21st century. Coral reef plants and animals are important sources of new medicines being developed to treat cancer, arthritis, human bacterial infections, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, viruses, and other diseases.
Since corals are stationary animals, many have evolved chemical defenses to protect themselves from predators. Scientists continue to research the medicinal potential of these substances. In the future, coral reef ecosystems could represent an increasingly important source of medical treatments, nutritional supplements, pesticides, cosmetics, and other commercial products.