At least 500 new types of marine sponges found on the Great Barrier Reef may act as a panacea for hundreds of diseases, say scientists.
Marine sponges are known to produce various kinds of chemicals to fend off predators and adverse environmental impacts. They already enjoy a great reputation for providing medication such as AZT, used to treat AIDS.
The chemicals produced by the newly discovered marine sponges will be studied to determine what medicinal benefits they may offer.
The sponge find is a result of a five-year project in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and Torres Straits, one of the largest studies of its kind in the world.
According to news.com.au, about 1200 sponge species were found, but only about half of them are know to science.
John Hooper, Queensland Museum head of biodiversity, has said that the sponges will be studied for beta blockers for heart disease, and for compounds to combat illnesses like gastro-intestinal disease and cancer.