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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Shelter in place issued for Barrett and Price Townships
3 die in 2-vehicle crash in Lancaster Co.
Police close roads in Monroe County during search for Eric Frein
Marijuana grow operation dismantled; hundreds of plants seized
Couple squashes competition with pumpkins at Oley fair
Police continue search for Eric Frein
Pocono Mountain schools closed for third day in a row Friday
Frein eludes police; Most wanted billboards popping up
Man armed with sword robs convenience store
Frein search makes neighbors change routines