Health

Could a green sponge hold cancer-fighting secrets?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Print this page Email A Friend!


WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — A small green sponge, discovered in the dark, icy waters of the Pacific off Alaska, could be the first effective weapon against pancreatic cancer, researchers said Wednesday.

Pancreatic cancer, with particularly aggressive tumours, is notoriously difficult to treat.

“One would never have imagined looking at this sponge that it could be miraculous,” Bob Stone, a researcher at the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center, said in a briefing by phone.

Stone discovered the sponge, dull in colour, called “Latrunculia austini” in 2005, while on a seabed exploration expedition in Alaska.

It lives on rocks in patches, at depths of 230-720 feet (70-219m).

Lab testing has shown that several molecules in this sponge selectively destroy pancreatic cancer cells, said Mark Hamann, a University of South Carolina researcher working with Frederick Valeriote of the Henry Ford Cancer Institute in Detroit.

“This is undoubtedly the most active molecule against pancreatic cancer that we see,” said Hamann. “Although there is still much work to be done, it marks the first key step in the discovery and process of developing a treatment,” he said.

Pancreatic cancer progresses slowly, a circumstance which leaves patients in a tough position, because late diagnosis means little chance for successful treatment.

Patients' chances of survival at five years for this tumour are only 14 per cent, according to the American Cancer Society.

“I've looked at 5,000 sponge extracts over the last two decades,” Valeriote said. “In terms of this particular pattern of pancreatic and ovarian cancer selective activity, we've only seen one (other) sponge with such activity, and that was one collected many years ago in Indonesia.”

In the United States, 53,670 new cases of pancreatic cancer will be diagnosed in 2017 and more than 43,000 people will die.

ADVERTISEMENT




POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT