(Xinhua) -- Chinese scientists said Tuesday China\'s ongoing undersea probe of a sulfide deposit could help produce new medicines by studying the submarine hydrothermal organisms.
China\'s home-made underwater robot \"Hailong 2\" grasped 7 kilograms of sulfide in a deep-sea hydrothermal \"chimney\" vent 2,700 meters below the sea\'s surface near the equator in the eastern Pacific on Oct. 23. It may contain many deep-sea microbes widely regarded by scientists as the planet\'s original life forms.
Ma Weilin, one of the chief scientists on the Dayang 1 Scientific Investigation Ship, told Xinhua the organisms living in an extremely high pressure environment suffused with poisonous sulfide were worthy of study in developing gene-based medicines. Hydrothermal solution is produced by hot magmatic emanations in deep water, around which many hydrothermal organisms survive by chemical combination. Wang Chunsheng, marine ecologist of the Institute of Oceanography under the State Oceanic Administration, said, \"The hydrothermal organisms have the potential to help the development of new anti-toxin drugs.\" They live in an aphotic depths of the sea, an environment quite similar to the very early stages of the earth when living things came into being, Wang said. The project also includes the mapping of undersea mineral resources, China\'s preparatory work to obtaining an exploration permit to be issued by the UN International Seabed Authority. The research vessel set sail on July 18 and will travel across the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian oceans. \"China is actually a laggard. We began to investigate oceanic sulfide deposits in 2005 whereas developed countries started in the 1970s,\" Ma said.