It’s not often the glandular secretions of an obscure gastropod get to be the hero of the story but that’s exactly what happened in a Flinders University, Southern Cross University and Monash University study.
Researchers there have discovered a colourful compound produced by sea snails native to South Australia’s rocky coast has remarkable potential as a cancer treatment.
The purple secretion protects the creatures’ eggs but it also has anti-bacterial properties and seems to act as an anti-inflammatory in humans.
In addition, work conducted at the universities confirms it could be adapted as an effective, non-toxic preventative treatment for bowel cancer, the second-most common form of cancer in Australia.
More than 15,000 new cases are diagnosed every year, resulting in over 5,000 deaths.
But Flinders University’s Professor Catherine Abbott says the natural compound produced by our heroic mollusc (scientific name Dicathais orbita) could provide new hope.
“We’re very excited about these latest results and hope to attract investment from a pharma company to work on a new drug to reduce development of colorectal cancer tumours,” she says.
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