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蝴蝶是怎样做自身修复的 – 译学馆
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蝴蝶是怎样做自身修复的

Jaap de Roode: How butterflies self-medicate

说到传染病
So infectious diseases, right?
传染病仍然是全球人类
Infectious diseases are still the main cause
生病和死亡的主因
of human suffering and death around the world.
每年 全球数以万计的人们死于
Every year, millions of people die of diseases such as T.B., malaria, HIV,
肺结核、疟疾、以及艾滋病 甚至是在美国
around the world and even in the United States.
每年都有成千上万的人因季节性流感致命
Every year, thousands of Americans die of seasonal flu.
当然作为人类 我们很有创造性 对吗?
Now of course, humans, we are creative. Right?
我们想出不少办法对抗疾病保护自己
We have come up with ways to protect ourselves against these diseases.
我们有药物 疫苗
We have drugs and vaccines.
我们十分谨慎地总结经验
And we’re conscious — we learn from our experiences
得出新的解决办法
and come up with creative solutions.
我们以为只有人类才懂医学 但其实不是的
We used to think we’re alone in this, but now we know we’re not.
我们不只是唯一的医生
We’re not the only medical doctors.
现在我们知道有大量的动物也能做出同样的事来
Now we know that there’s a lot of animals out there that can do it too.
最典型的是大猩猩
Most famous, perhaps, chimpanzees.
和人类差不多
Not so much different from us,
它们会利用植物清理肠道寄生虫
they can use plants to treat their intestinal parasites.
几十年的研究发现很多动物都会保护自己
But the last few decades have shown us that other animals can do it too:
大象、豪猪、绵羊、山羊……数不胜数
elephants, porcupines, sheep, goats, you name it.
更有趣的是 最近的研究发现
And even more interesting than that is that recent discoveries are telling us
昆虫和其他小型生物也懂得医疗
that insects and other little animals with smaller brains can use medication too.
我们都知道传染病的病原体
The problem with infectious diseases, as we all know,
不断演化
is that pathogens continue to evolve,
我们过去开发的一些药物
and a lot of the drugs that we have developed
正在逐渐失效
are losing their efficacy.
因此我们更需要不断开发新药物
And therefore, there is this great need to find new ways to discover drugs
来应对不断变化的病原体
that we can use against our diseases.
现在 我认为我们应该研究这些动物
Now, I think that we should look at these animals,
看看从它们身上哪些是值得借鉴的
and we can learn from them how to treat our own diseases.
作为一名生物学家 我研究帝王蝶已经10年了
As a biologist, I have been studying monarch butterflies for the last 10 years.
帝王蝶以它们壮观的迁徙而闻名
Now, monarchs are extremely famous for their spectacular migrations
每年成百万的帝王蝶
from the U.S. and Canada down to Mexico every year,
从美国和加拿大一起迁徙到墨西哥
where millions of them come together,
但这并非我研究它们的原因
but it’s not why I started studying them.
我研究它们是因为它们会生病
I study monarchs because they get sick.
就像在座的你我一样它们也会生病
They get sick like you. They get sick like me.
我认为它们所做的可以让我们了解许多药物
And I think what they do can tell us a lot about drugs
并开发出适用于人类的药物
that we can develop for humans.
帝王蝶身上的寄生虫叫做
Now, the parasites that monarchs get infected with
ophryocystis elektroscirrha 很拗口
are called ophryocystis elektroscirrha — a mouthful.
这些寄生虫在蝶身上
What they do is they produce spores,
产生了成百万的孢子
millions of spores on the outside of the butterfly
可以从蝴蝶外侧鳞片的夹缝中看见这些细小的斑点
that are shown as little specks in between the scales of the butterfly.
这绝对威胁着帝王斑蝶的健康
And this is really detrimental to the monarch.
缩短了它们的寿命
It shortens their lifespan,
影响它们的飞行能力
it reduces their ability to fly,
甚至导致它们还没成年就死亡
it can even kill them before they’re even adults.
非常有致命性的寄生虫
Very detrimental parasite.
我工作的一部分 就是花大量的时间 呆在温室里 培育植物
As part of my job, I spend a lot of time in the greenhouse growing plants,
这是因为帝王蝶十分挑食!
and the reason for this is that monarchs are extremely picky eaters.
它们只吃乳草的幼草
They only eat milkweed as larvae.
幸好我找到了几种它们食用的乳草
Luckily, there are several species of milkweed that they can use,
这些乳草中都含有卡烯內酯
and all these milkweeds have cardenolides in them.
这是一种具有毒性的化学物质
These are chemicals that are toxic.
卡烯内酯的毒素对大多数动物都有用 但却除了帝王蝶
They’re toxic to most animals, but not to monarchs.
事实上 帝王蝶吸收了这种化学物质
In fact, monarchs can take up the chemicals,
让它们的身体里充满这种毒素 而这毒素也使它们具有毒性
put it in their own bodies, and it makes them toxic
来对抗它们的天敌 比如鸟类
against their predators, such as birds.
它们要做的就是
And what they do, then, is advertise this toxicity
通过黑白相间点缀有橙色的靓丽颜色
through their beautiful warning colorations
作为毒素警告吓唬它们
with this orange, black and white.
所以我的工作就是在温室中培养这些植物
So what I did during my job is grow plants in the greenhouse,
不同种类的植物 不同种类的乳草
different ones, different milkweeds.
某些毒性很高 像是热带乳草
Some were toxic, including the tropical milkweed,
这些強心甾里有大量的浓聚物
with very high concentrations of these cardenolides.
某些却没有毒素
And some were not toxic.
然后在我喂食帝王斑蝶时
And then I fed them to monarchs.
某些斑蝶没有染病 很健康
Some of the monarchs were healthy. They had no disease.
某些斑蝶则生着病
But some of the monarchs were sick,
于是我发现某些乳草有药效
and what I found is that some of these milkweeds are medicinal,
意味着乳草能有效减低帝王斑蝶的症状
meaning they reduce the disease symptoms in the monarch butterflies,
意味着当它们注射这种物质
meaning these monarchs can live longer when they are infected
或者食用这种有医疗价值的植物的时侯 就可以延长自己的寿命
when feeding on these medicinal plants.
于是当我发现了这些 我产生了一个想法
And when I found this, I had this idea,
许多人说这是一个疯狂的想法
and a lot of people said it was a crazy idea,
但我想 如果帝王斑蝶可以应用呢?
but I thought, what if monarchs can use this?
如果它们可以把这些乳草当作药物呢?
What if they can use these plants as their own form of medicine?
如果它们可以表现的跟医生一样能给自己开药呢?
What if they can act as medical doctors?
于是我和我的团队开始实验
So my team and I started doing experiments.
在第一类实验里
In the first types of experiments,
我们给幼虫两种选择:
we had caterpillars, and gave them a choice:
有药性的乳草和没有药性的乳草一组
medicinal milkweed versus non-medicinal milkweed.
然后测量它们一生中 每种乳草吃了多少
And then we measured how much they ate of each species over their lifetime.
就像大部分的科学研究结果一样 答案很无聊:
And the result, as so often in science, was boring:
有药性和没有药性的各半
Fifty percent of their food was medicinal. Fifty percent was not.
这些幼虫没有为自己做出有利的选择
These caterpillars didn’t do anything for their own welfare.
于是我们转为研究成蝶
So then we moved on to adult butterflies,
我们开始给自己问问题
and we started asking the question
这些母蝶是否会医治自己的幼虫?
whether it’s the mothers that can medicate their offspring.
它们会把卵产在有药的乳草上吗?
Can the mothers lay their eggs on medicinal milkweed
这会减少幼虫生病的机率吗?
that will make their future offspring less sick?
我们重复这个实验很多年
We have done these experiments now over several years,
得到一样的结果
and always get the same results.
我们把帝王蝶放进大笼子里
What we do is we put a monarch in a big cage,
一边的乳草是有药性的 一边没有
a medicinal plant on one side, a non-medicinal plant on the other side,
然后测量它们在两种乳草上的产卵数
and then we measure the number of eggs that the monarchs lay on each plant.
获得的结果是一致的
And what we find when we do that is always the same.
我们发现帝王斑蝶偏好药性乳草
What we find is that the monarchs strongly prefer the medicinal milkweed.
换句话说
In other words, what these females are doing
68% 的雌蝶会把卵产在有药性乳草上
is they’re laying 68 percent of their eggs in the medicinal milkweed.
有趣的是 在它们产卵的时候
Intriguingly, what they do is they actually transmit the parasites
也传播了寄生虫
when they’re laying the eggs.
它们无法阻止这些
They cannot prevent this.
它们也不能治疗自己
They can also not medicate themselves.
但这个实验告诉我们
But what these experiments tell us
帝王蝶中 雌蝶会把卵产在有药性的乳草上
is that these monarchs, these mothers, can lay their eggs on medicinal milkweed
这会减轻幼虫的病况
that will make their future offspring less sick.
所以 我认我这是个很重要的发现
Now, this is a really important discovery, I think,
不只是因为它显示了大自然的奥妙
not just because it tells us something cool about nature,
更提醒我们应该如何开发药物
but also because it may tell us something more about how we should find drugs.
这些动物都很小
Now, these are animals that are very small
我们曾经觉得它们构造简单
and we tend to think of them as very simple.
它们的大脑很小
They have tiny little brains,
但它们却懂得如此复杂的药物机理
yet they can do this very sophisticated medication.
直至今日 我们所知道的大多数药物
Now, we know that even today, most of our drugs
都起源于大自然 包括植物
derive from natural products, including plants,
在一些原始文化中
and in indigenous cultures,
传统医者时常会观察动物来找新的药物
traditional healers often look at animals to find new drugs.
这种方式下 大象教我们如何治疗肠胃不适
In this way, elephants have told us how to treat stomach upset,
刺猬教我们如何处理血便
and porcupines have told people how to treat bloody diarrhea.
我想 最重要的是
What I think is important, though, is to move beyond
除了那些大脑发达的哺乳类动物外
these large-brained mammals and give these guys more credit,
我们也应该更加注重这些简单的动物 昆虫
these simple animals, these insects that we tend to think of
这些拥有微小脑袋的非常非常非常简单的动物
as very, very simple with tiny little brains.
研究发现这些动物同样懂得药物机理
The discovery that these animals can also use medication
让我们进入全新领域
opens up completely new avenues,
所以我想 也许有一天 我们在治疗人类疾病的时候
and I think that maybe one day, we will be treating human diseases
会用这些在蝴蝶身上发现的药物
with drugs that were first discovered by butterflies,
我想这个机会是值得把握的
and I think that is an amazing opportunity worth pursuing.
谢谢各位
Thank you so much.
(掌声)
(Applause)

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蝴蝶也像人类一样懂得药物机理?不信,快来看

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