As natural therapies go, this one may be a bit unorthodox, but scientists believe a compound found in scorpion venom combined with nanoparticles may become a new health resource for those suffering from brain cancer.
In a recent study of the compound called chlorotoxin, researchers from the University of Washington found that the combination could reduce the spread of cancerous cells by 98 percent.
Chlorotoxin had been previously found to bind to MMP-2, a protein overexpressed by many types of tumors, including those of the breast, colon, skin, lung, prostate and ovaries. The new experiment confirmed that combining it with nanoparticles resulted in more MMP-2 being bound, preventing it from breaking away from the tumor and invading other areas.
"We hypothesized the mechanism and we have all the data to prove [it]," says Miqin Zhang, professor of materials science and engineering at the university.
The researchers tout the results as important since brain cancers tend to be highly invasive so a new approach to slowing their spread would be particularly useful.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 22,070 malignant tumors of the brain or spinal cord will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2009 and about 12,920 people will die from these diseases.