Shrimp and lobsters make their own anti-inflammatory molecules, and that has scientists very excited. In a press release posted last week by the College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University, officials announced that they had received a $380,000 National Institute of Health grant to investigate just how the marine medicine could be used to eliminate inflammatory diseases in humans.
The crabby chemical that is the center of attention is called a chitin, and it’s a key constituent of the shells of various oceans animals including crayfish, shrimp, krill, and barnacles, and is one of the most abundant molecules in all of nature, second only to cellulose. And, as it turns out, in addition to being abundant (and cheap), chitin has powerful anti -inflammatory properties. Properties that are so impressive, that the natural molecule found in so many crust critters is being studied in hope of finding a pharmaceutical treatment for inflammatory diseases including Irritable Bowel Syndrome, arthritis, and heart disease. And it’s not just shellfish that contain this fascinating medicinal molecule. You can find chitin in the hard shells of insects as well as in the cell walls of most fungi and algae.