Science: Sharks may hold cure to Breast Cancer

Thank God ladies, Breast Cancer may now have a cure.

Sharks could provide the key to combating breast cancer.

Scientists at Aberdeen University believe that antibodies which help sharks fight off cancerous cells could do the same job in the human body.

They are beginning a three-year study to monitor how the antibody, called IgNAR, might be used to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

The researchers believe it could be useful in targeting HER-2 positive breast cancer, a common form of the disease suffered by one in four breast cancer sufferers.

Whilst there are drugs on the market to treat HER-2 cancer, there is an increasing problem with the cancer cells resisting treatment.  It is hoped that the new study, which is being funded by the Scottish cancer research charity AICR, could lead to the development of new, more effective drugs.

Dr Helen Dooley, from the University of Aberdeen’s School of Biological Sciences who is leading the study, told Sky News: “Our work centres on a type of antibody, called IgNAR, which is uniquely found in the blood of sharks.

“IgNAR antibodies are interesting because they bind to targets, such as viruses or parasites, in a very different way to the antibodies found in humans. They can do this because their attachment region is very small and so can fit into spaces that human antibodies cannot.

“We believe we can exploit the novel binding of IgNAR and use it to stop HER2 and HER3 molecules from working, and prompting cancer cells to grow and divide.

“With the funding from AICR we can begin to explore the potential of IgNAR as a future treatment for breast cancer. This is only the first step in a very long process but if our hypothesis holds true we hope to develop new anti-cancer drugs based upon these unique shark antibodies.”

The three-year study will look at two molecules – called HER2 and HER3 – found on the surface of cancer cells.

When these molecules pair-up on the surface of a cancer cell, they signal it to grow and divide.

The study will investigate if shark IgNAR antibodies can be used to stop these two molecules from working and sending this signal.

Lara Bennett, AICR’s Science Communication Manager told Sky News: “We believe that funding research projects like Dr Helen Dooley’s is so important for the future development of more effective treatments to help patients who become resistant to drugs like Herceptin.

“Whilst breast cancer is still the most common cancer in the UK, more than 85 out of every 100 people diagnosed with breast cancer do live for at least five years after diagnosis and more than 75 out of every 100 people live for at least 10 years.”

The study is the latest step in man’s analysis of the shark and its usefulness.

A company in the US has duplicated the texture of a shark’s skin in the manufacture of work surfaces.

The ridged surface that enables the shark to resist algae and barnacles has been used to create germ-deflecting surfaces.

It has been found to reduce bacteria levels on everything from computer keyboards to medical equipment.

Its Parker baby
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