How snails can cut down cancer risk

Sydney: Researchers have isolated one compound in the gland secretions from the Australian white rock sea snail which has not only anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities, but important anti-cancer properties. “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,” said senior lead researcher Catherine Abbott from Flinders University in Australia.

“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,” Abbott said. According to the researchers, natural compounds from marine and terrestrial plants and animals are valuable sources of current and future medicines for human health. “In this latest research we have not only showed that a specific snail compound can prevent the formation of tumours in a colon cancer model, but we were also able to use sophisticated technology to trace the metabolism of the compound inside the body,” said Kirsten Benkendorff, Professor at Southern Cross University. Along with tracking the active compound inside the body to confirm it reaches the colon where it has the anti-tumour effect, which is important for oral drug delivery, the snail compound comes from a class of compounds called “indoles” which are commonly found in both natural plant medicines and some pharmaceuticals.

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