While trying to find the vaccine formula that would protect pregnant women from malaria, Danish researchers believe they found a cancer treatment.
While conducting research on an effective vaccine to curb the incidence of malaria with pregnant women, researchers with the University of Copenhagen in collaboration with the University of British Columbia have stumbled upon what they believe to be a treatment for a wide spectrum of tumors, including cancer tumors and cancer cells.
The study has been conducted on mice under laboratory conditions. However, in four years time the research team plans to conduct clinical trials with human patients. For the time being, their breakthrough is considered a hope for the medical treatment of cancer.
The breakthrough treatment is based on what is known as armed malaria proteins. When attacking the placenta of pregnant women, malaria parasitic molecules attach to a molecule which is identical to the carbohydrate in cancer cells. As such, Professor Ali Salanti with the Faculty of Medical Health and Sciences of the University of Copenhagen and Mads Daugaard with the University of British Columbia took to the laboratory to artificially create the proteins that enables malaria parasites to attach to the placenta.
According to Professor Salanti:
“The biggest questions are whether it’ll work in the human body, and if the human body can tolerate the doses needed without developing side effects”.
Following, they introduced a toxin within the protein hat. Together, they act as an effective tool to identify and detect cancer cells. Once tracked down, the protein hat attached to the carbohydrate in the cancer cells and releases the toxin. As a result, the cancer cells are killed, preventing tumors from forming.
The engineered malaria parasite proteins have been tested with mice and in culture cells. Spanning a wide variety of tumors, the results of the research show that the potential new treatment was highly efficient with 90 percent of the tested cell cultures.
The research paper is published in the Cancer Cell journal. To further the development of the potent new treatment and ease testing in clinical trials conducted on humans, the University of Copenhagen has worked with the involved research team to establish the VAR2pharmaceuticals biotech company.
The purpose of the enterprise is to enable the scientific team to get access to all resources necessary as the Danish researchers believe they found a cancer treatment based on malaria proteins.
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