Reefs contain a diverse assemblage of invertebrates such as corals, tunicates, mollusks, bryozoans, sponges, and echinoderms. Throughout history, scientists have turned to coral reefs for potential cures for diseases and ailments. The coral reefs are a treasure house of potential cures for cancer, AIDS, and myriad diseases.
You might be wondering why coral reefs, of all places, could be a source of medicines and cures. Researchers became extremely interested in corals because these organisms exhibit a unique ability. Corals are sessile invertebrates and cannot protect themselves from predators by running away. Instead, these organisms secrete toxins which harm their predators. The compounds of these toxins may be synthesized by the coral or by the endosymbiotic microorganisms that inhabit its tissues, or sequestered from food that the microorganisms eat. Because of their unique structures and properties, the compounds of these toxins may yield lifesaving medicines and cures.