Breast Cancer Researchers Test Spider Venom Treatment
Breast cancer cells may be destroyed by venom from poisonous spiders and tarantulas, Australian researchers announced Monday.
"[Spider venom molecules] are designed to target very specific sites and we are hoping that some of these molecules target cancer cells," Dr. David Wilson of the University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience told Australia's Herald Sun newspaper.
Wilson said he has gathered venom from the fangs of up to 10 Fraser Island funnel web spiders, from which researchers will isolate 300 molecules and expose them to cancer cells. The spiders are considered among the world's deadliest, according to The Daily Mail.
To treat cancer, scientists make tumor cells glow to distinguish them from healthy cells.
Dr. Norelle Daly told the newspaper: "We are hoping spider toxins will do the same thing for breast cancer, or do even more and kill the breast cancer cells."
The two-year trial is funded by the Australian National Breast Cancer Association and is still in its early stages. Wilson expressed hope that the cells might provide a more "natural" treatment for breast cancer. Venom has already been used to aid in pain prevention, and scorpion toxins have been shown to kill cancer cells in mice.
News of the research came Monday as Australians marked Pink Ribbon Day, at which events raise money for breast cancer treatment and research.