Sea anemone toxin may aid cancer fight
Wed Nov 14, 2012 8:47pm AEDT
ABC News Report
Researchers say the venom from a tropical sea anemone may help fight breast cancer.
Laboratory tests have shown the toxin can kill two types of cancer cells.
Flinders University lead researcher Barbara Sanderson says the discovery now needs to be tested on animals and humans before pharmaceutical companies could be approached.
Dr Sanderson was excited the tropical sea anemone's anti-cancer potential was being unlocked.
"We were all terribly excited that we'd got killing of the breast cancer cells and the mechanism of action was related to a potential therapeutic and also that the non-malignant origin cells were killed less, so it's a very exciting finding for us," she said.
"We collect the toxins in a non-invasive way simply by placing the anemone in a plastic bag and capturing the venom milk.
"The development of cancer therapeutics is a long road obviously, but this study has shown mechanisms involved in the way that the venom kills the cancer cells are suitable for a therapeutic development."
The researchers said sea anemones, such as the kind with many tentacles that clown fish live among, secrete active compounds and toxins as part of their defence and feeding.
Some of their toxins already have medicinal uses, such as in painkillers.