Could molluscs cure cancer?

The cancer-fighting drugs of the future may be made from the humble sea mollusc, an Australian researcher has found.

Australian whelks produce small bioactive molecules to protect themselves against pathogens but they could also be developed into antiviral, antibacterial and anticancer drugs, according to Dr Kirsten Benkendorff of Southern Cross University.

“These extracts show selective activity against a wide range of solid tumours and lymphoma cell lines, but have minimal toxicity to normal healthy human cells,” she said.

Lab tests found that the extract stopped tumours from forming in rodents and further trials are planned, she said, adding that the product could be commercially available in six years.

Read more at Australian Academy of Science