Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 7th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Sargassum Secrets
31 October 2014

Sargassum Secrets

Japanese wireweed Sargassum muticum, an enormous seaweed that arrived in Britain as a stowaway on oysters, is wreaking havoc in coastal waters. It’s blamed for clogging marinas, snagging boat propellers and harming native ecosystems so vigorous efforts have been made to eradicate it. But the wireweed (pictured) may possess an invaluable secret. Used in traditional Chinese medicine, this slimy invader is thought to possess useful medicinal compounds. It contains algin and fucoidan, which could act as preventative medicines for heart disease and stroke. Researchers from the University of Greenwich are embarking on a research programme aiming to unlock its pharmaceutical potential, while freeing up swathes of the British coast. More than half the medicines used in healthcare have their origins in natural products. Will Japanese wireweed be another?

Written by Nick Kennedy

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at with translations by the University of Valencia.