Health Watch — Cancer Treatment: Learning from Nature

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This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about recent advances in cancer research. Doctors have found many effective medical treatments in nature, but sometimes the laboratory can improve on them. There’s a creature called a sea squirt that lives in the ocean near the Philippines, and a toxin from these creatures can kill cancer cells. But it would be hard to get enough of this toxin from the wild, so scientists have created a laboratory version of it. Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that the laboratory version keeps cancer cells from reproducing while leaving healthy cells alone. They also found that this works in animals with cancer as well as in laboratory cultures.

Dr. Steven McKnight, chairman of biochemistry at UT Southwestern, says the results were surprisingly good. Validating these results could lead to effective new cancer treatments.   



June 2007

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