Starfish `hold key to cancer relief'
Thursday 20 May 1999
The common "spiny" starfish, which is found in the English Channel and the North Sea, lays millions of eggs which contain an abundant supply of an enzyme found in human cells. Scientists are harvesting the enzyme, responsible for regulating cell growth in the eggs to allow them to develop anti-cancer treatments.
In 60 per cent of all cancers, including breast, bowel and lung cancer, a gene mutation means that some cells are permanently switched "on" and so divide uncontrollably. It is this mass of cells which produces a tumour. By blocking the enzyme involved - turning the switch "off" - scientists could effectively put a brake on cell growth and stop cancerous cells from forming tumours.
The scientists have already found one prototype molecule that blocked the enzyme. When tested against human cancerous cells, in the laboratory, it prevented them from multiplying. "We are using the starfish enzyme as a tool to help us develop a drug that can switch cell growth off," said Professor Herbie Newell, of the University of Newcastle and the Cancer Research Campaign, who is leading the research.
"There is a particularly plentiful supply of one of the enzymes we are looking at in the eggs of this starfish. We are hoping to be able to clinically trial a drug within three years."
- 1 Mario Balotelli: Staff at arson-hit Manchester Dogs' Home convinced Liverpool striker is behind five-figure donation
- 2 There is literally not a single woman in this iPhone 6 queue
- 3 Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
- 4 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
- 5 Scottish independence referendum: JK Rowling, Russell Brand, Nigel Farage and more react to the 'No' vote
Scottish independence referendum: Frankie Boyle reacts to nation's 'No' vote - 'To be fair, I've always hated Scotland'
Scottish independence referendum results: David Cameron pledges plans for 'English votes for English laws' by January
Scottish independence live: Scotland gives a clear 'No' in historic referendum - as it happened
Scottish referendum results: David Cameron set to unveil major devolution of powers to England
Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...
£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...
£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...
£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...