Health Beat: 'Dirty' cancer fighter: Medicine's next big thing
Updated On: Mar 26 2013 01:16:18 PM CDT
A single cell causes cancer, and it kills millions of people around the world every year. Doctors have many ways to treat it, but there might be a way now to prevent it.
A drug discovered in the dirt among the Moai statues on Easter Island back in the 1970s could be the answer to preventing cancer.
Rapamycin, Sharp said, was first used as a fungicide. Now, it’s used as an anti-cancer therapy and an immuno-suppressant.
"To prevent transplant rejection," Sharp said.
A few years ago, Sharp got the idea that it might help extend life, too.
"Everybody said, 'Oh, that’s a crazy idea,'" explained Sharp.
Studies, however, have shown mice given the drug had their lives extended by up to 30 percent.
"They look younger. They act younger. They’re more mobile,” said Sharp.
"The mice that got Rapamycin appeared to have their cancers prevented,” said Dr. Tyler Curiel, professor of medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Now, doctors are giving mice cancer-causing chemicals. The idea is to find out if the drug is boosting their immunity, so their immune systems can kill cancer cells as soon as they appear.
"There’s a lot of evidence that it boosts your immunity," Curiel said.
If it really does prevent the disease in mice, "perhaps, eventually, people will be able to take this drug," said Sharp.
A two-year, $450,000 grant from the National Cancer Institute is helping to fund the work.
If the drug does prove to prevent cancer in mice, human trials could start in about two years, Curiel said.
Copyright 2013 WFMZ. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Wind hampers efforts to fight 5-alarm fire at motel in Muhlenberg
Driver killed when car hits tree on Route 10 in Berks
Man killed when hit by minivan near airport
Reading police officer charged in theft of money evidence
Man killed, woman seriously injured in motorcycle crash
Life Lessons: 8 foods to buy now
Woman pleads guilty to homicide by vehicle
MH370 search: Object likely not 'of use'
Police seek to interview man in investigation of woman's death
Truck driver pleads to lesser charges in fatal crash