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Sea snail chemical could be used as preventative treatment for bowel cancer, study shows

Published on 28/08/19 at 11:32am

A chemical produced by Australian sea snails is showing promise as a potential treatment for cancer, according to researchers from Australia.

Researchers from Flinders University, Southern Cross University and Monash University in Australia, have found that a chemical compound found in the gland secretions of the Australian white rock sea snail (Dicathasis orbita) has anti-cancer properties.

The chemical, which is found in a purple fluid that is used by sea snails to protect their eggs, has in the past been found to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Now, researchers have found the compound could be used as a preventative treatment for bowel cancer. Their findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Professor Catherine Abbott from Flinders University explained: “After a decade of work, we have found an active compound derived from the substance produced by the mollusc's gland which could be used as a preventative in bowel cancer. We're very excited about these latest results and hope to attract investment from a pharma company to work on a new drug to reduce development of colorectal cancer tumours.”

Professor Benkendorff added: “In this latest research we have not only show that a specific snail compound can prevent the formation of tumors in a colon cancer model, but we were also able to use sophisticated technology to trace the metabolism of the compound inside the body. This is very important for drug development because it helps demonstrate the absence of potentially toxic side-effects.”

Louis Goss

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