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Malaria Parasite Opens new window on Cancer Treatment
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Author:  Badri [ 19 Oct 2015 01:55 ]
Post subject:  Malaria Parasite Opens new window on Cancer Treatment

A powerful new anti-cancer tool based on part of the malaria parasite can kill more than nine out of ten kinds of cancer in humans, according to a pilot study. Scientists searching for a malaria vaccine to use in pregnant women have stumbled across a marker that could identify and destroy the vast majority of cancer cells. Independent experts said the discovery would be immensely significant if it could be confirmed.

Ali Salanti, a malaria researcher at the University of Copenhagen noted that the Plasmodium Falciparum parasite latched on to cells in the placenta that was remarkably similar to those on the cancer cell. The Placenta and most common cancer cells have a molecule known as chondroitin sulphate A on the surface of their cells. The malaria parasite has a protein called VAR2CSA that seeks out this molecule and uses it to bind to placental cells. Prof Salanti found that this protein does the same thing to the tumour cells.

Cutting out this protein and yoking it to the diptheria toxin or another toxic chemical called hemiasterlin, they found they could kill most cancer cells but leave other cells unharmed.When this was tested on genetically engineered mice that had 3 types of cancer cells - prostate cancer, non hodgkins lymphoma and breast cancer that had spread to the bones, it dramatically shrank their tumours.

The next step will be to test whether this Protein-Toxin combination will work on human tumour cells. Pascal Meier, of the Institute of Cancer Research said if the results could be repeated then the study would be an important breakthrough.

The research was published in the journal Cancer Cell.

The report was published in The Ties Newspaper.

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