Tick Saliva May Hold Key for Future Cancer Cure

August 28, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Brazillian researchers may have stumbled on a future cure for cancerous tumors. An anti-coagulant protein found in the saliva of a common South American tick has been shown to shrink tumors in rats, and the discovery could pave the way for new treatments.

Lead researcher, Ana Marisa Chudzinski-Tavassi, a molecular biologist at the Instituto Butantan in Sao Paulo, called her discovery a “radical innovation.” Tavassi did not plan at first, to conduct research on cancerous tumors.

The molecular biologist was conducting research on the anti-coagulant properties of the tick’s saliva. The saliva of the South American tick, named South Amblyomma cajennense, also contained a protein, called Factor X active, which shares similar anti-coagulant properties to that of a Kunitz-type inhibitor, called Tissue Factor Pathway Inhibitor or TFPI.

The Tissue Factor Pathway Inhibitor is known to inhibit cell growth. Tavassi decided to conduct experiments, using the tick’s Factor X active protein on cancerous tumors of rats, to determine if the protein had any effect on shrinking cancer cells. Not only did the protein shrink tumors, after prolonged treatment, the tumors disappeared.

“To our surprise it didn’t kill normal cells, which were also tested,” Chudzinski-Tavassi said. “But it did kill the tumorous cells that were being analyzed.”

Tavassi acknowledges that moving beyond “proof of concept” to human clinical trials and to the development of a safe drug from the tick protein, is many years away.

However, she has applied for a patent on the tick protein and is in the process of submitting her findings for publication in medical journals, to raise interest and funding for her promising cancer research.



One Response to “Tick Saliva May Hold Key for Future Cancer Cure”

  1. The Miracle of Tick Spit? | The Clumsy Fly on August 31st, 2009 5:08 pm

    […] Researchers have discovered that a protein found in the saliva of a South American species of tick m…  Could this be the first step in more effective cancer treatment?  And how many ticks do you have to kiss in order for it to work? Close Bookmark and Share This Page Save to Browser Favorites / BookmarksAskbackflipblinklistBlogBookmarkBloglinesBlogMarksBlogsvineBuddyMarksBUMPzee!CiteULikeco.mmentsConnoteadel.icio.usDiggdiigoDotNetKicksDropJackdzoneFacebookFarkFavesFeed Me LinksFriendsitefolkd.comFurlGoogleHuggJamespotJeqqKaboodlekirtsylinkaGoGoLinkedInLinksMarkerMa.gnoliaMister WongMixxMySpaceMyWebNetvouzNewsvineoneviewOnlyWirePlugIMPropellerRedditRojoSegnaloShoutwireSimpySlashdotSphereSphinnSpurlSquidooStumbleUponTechnoratiThisNextTwitterWebrideWindows LiveWorlds MoviesYahoo!Email This to a FriendCopy HTML:  If you like this then please subscribe to the RSS Feed.Powered by Bookmarkify™ More » […]

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