Toxin from salmon may fight cancer

Toxin from salmon may fight cancer

The term cancer describes a group of over 100 diseases. Cancers typically develop because of abnormal cells that grow and spread out of control. It is the second leading cause of death in America just behind heart disease.

While there is no official cure, scientists are researching tirelessly to find ways to treat and eradicate cancer. Breakthroughs are being made all the time. New research from the University of Freiburg shows that a toxin from salmon may fight cancer.

The researchers have solved the mechanisms behind this fish toxin that could be used in the future to treat cancer. The study abstract states:

The pharmacologist Dr. Thomas Jank and his fellow researchers in the research group led by Prof. Dr. Dr. Klaus Aktories at the University of Freiburg studied a pathogen of the Yersinia family (Yersinia ruckeri). This pathogen causes redmouth disease in Salmonidae, which includes salmon and trout, resulting in large financial losses in the fish industry. The research group was able to identify a toxin injection machine in the Y. ruckeri genome. The structure of this machine resembles that of viruses that normally attack bacteria. The group demonstrated that the toxin Afp18 in this injection machine is an enzyme that deactivates the switch protein RhoA. RhoA is responsible for many vital processes in the cells of humans and fish. For example, it controls the building up and breaking down of actin filaments. These filaments are not only necessary for cell division, but also for the spreading of tumour metastases in the body.”

To summarize, the scientists were able to find a toxin in fish that is essential for attacking bacteria, and turning off processes in the fish including cell division and the spreading of tumors.

The researchers then injected the toxin (Afp18) into zebra fish embryos. The result was that cell division was blocked and the fish embryos did not develop. The study abstract continues:

The toxin caused the actin filaments in the fish cells to collapse. This is because the Afp18 attaches a sugar molecule, an N-acetylglucosamine, onto the amino acid tyrosine in RhoA. According to the scientists, this is a very unusual reaction in nature. The team was able to shed light on this mechanism at the atomic level through the X-ray analysis of Afp18-modified RhoA crystals. For this, they collaborated with Prof. Dr. Daan von Aalten from the University of Dundee, Scotland. Rho-regulatory proteins are involved in the growth of cancer, especially metastasis. For this reason, the researchers from the University of Freiburg believe that this fish toxin has great therapeutic potential in cancer treatment.”

The study showing that a toxin from salmon may fight cancer was published in the journal Nature Communications.

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1. “Uni Freiburg: Toxin from Salmonid Fish Has Potential to Treat Cancer.” AlphaGalileo. Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, 24 July 2015. Web. 31 July 2015.
2. “Tyrosine Glycosylation of Rho by Yersinia Toxin Impairs Blastomere Cell Behaviour in Zebrafish Embryos.” Nature Publishing Group, 20 July 2015. Web. 31 July 2015.
3. “What Is Cancer?American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society, n.d. Web. 31 July 2015.
4. “The Top 10 Leading Causes of Death in the US.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, n.d. Web. 31 July 2015.

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