posted on Jul, 21 2014 @ 01:09 PM
I came across the following today:
NY Daily News - Cat feces could contain the cure for
Scientists are studying Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite common in cat feces, for the development of a cancer vaccine.
Researchers from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. have studied T. gondii's cancer-fighting abilities. When the
parasite enters a human — via contaminated drinking water, undercooked and contaminated meat or even a cat's litter tray — cells that combat
cancer are created in response. They said that cancer can halt a body's immune system, but T. gondii can help kick-start it again.
The researchers created a mutant form of T. gondii
that they're calling cps
. The mutant T. gondii
was engineered to prevent
reproduction in patients by removing a gene critical to the process. So far it has only been tested in mice with lethal forms melanoma and ovarian
cancer. The treated mice are reported to have had a high chance for survival.
From IFL SCIENCE! - Cat Parasite
Modified Into An Effective Cancer Vaccine
"The biology of this organism is inherently different from other microbe-based immunotherapeutic strategies that typically just tickle immune
cells from the outside," Fox explained. "By gaining preferential access to the inside of powerful innate immune cell types, our mutated strain of T.
gondii reprograms the natural power of the immune system to clear tumor cells and cancer."
Cps was injected into mice that had lethal forms of ovarian cancer and melanoma and resulted in high rates of survival. In the future, cps could be a
very potent treatment or vaccine for cancer patients that could even be highly personalized. Cells would be taken from the patient and exposed to cps
in vitro, creating the desired immune response. The cps-containing cells would then be returned to the patient to fight the cancer and could even
provide immunity against recurrence of that cancer type.
"Cps stimulates amazingly effective immunotherapy against cancers, superior to anything seen before," said Bzik. "The ability of cps to communicate in
different and unique ways with the cancer and special cells of the immune system breaks the control that cancer has leveraged over the immune
There's no mention of a time frame for when we might expect to see primate (let alone human) trials for a cps-based cancer vaccine but the researchers
involved are saying this novel approach holds "incredible promise."
Most of us are most familiar with T. gondii
, which is capable of infecting and being spread by virtually all warm-blooded animals, because it's
estimated to infect as much as 1/3 of the world's human population. More disturbing, studies have shown T. gondii
infection causes behavioral
changes in rodents and there is some evidence that it may be linked to certain neurological disorders in humans.
From Wikipedia - Toxoplasma gondii
T. gondii has been shown to alter the behavior of infected rodents in ways thought to increase the rodents' chances of being preyed upon by
cats. Because cats are the only hosts within which T. gondii can sexually reproduce to complete and begin its lifecycle, such behavioral
manipulations are thought to be evolutionary adaptations to increase the parasite's reproductive success, in one of the manifestations the
evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins attributes to the "extended phenotype". Although numerous hypotheses exist and are being investigated, the
mechanism of T. gondii–induced behavioral changes in rodents remains unknown.
A number of studies have suggested subtle behavioral or personality changes may occur in infected humans, and infection with the parasite has
recently been associated with a number of neurological disorders, particularly schizophrenia. However, evidence for causal relationships remains
Most potential cancer treatments that show great promise during animal trials don't prove effective in humans. In this case, even if a vaccine can be
proven effective against cancers in humans, understanding the mechanism by which this parasite alters behavior will be a major hurdle.
There's no information, in either source, about whether researchers believe T. gondii
infections presently confer some defense against cancers
in infected people or animals or if this is not the case, what about their method leads to these cancer fighting properties. Given the prevalence in
humans, it seems like it would be easy to compile statistical data on T. gondii
infection and cancer risks and mortality.
edit on 2014-7-21 by theantediluvian because: (no reason given)