A type of algae found in the south Pacific could provide a new form of cancer treatment, scientists have said.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) suggest that just three milligrams of the compound, which is called somocystinamide A (ScA), is capable of destroying enough cancer cells to fill a swimming pool.
"We are excited because we have discovered a structurally unique and highly potent cancer-fighting compound," said Dwayne Stupack, associate professor of pathology at the Moores UCSD Cancer Centre.
The professor revealed that the compound activates a "death pathway" in cells, preventing the formation of blood vessels needed to feed the tumour and impacting upon tumour cells' ability to multiply.
"We envision it will be perfect for emerging technology, particularly nanotechnology, which is being developed to target cancerous tumours without toxic side-effects," he added.
The findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.