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Sea creature cancer treatment

A possible new cancer treatment has been developed by scientists in the US from a toxin found in a rare marine invertebrate.

The liquid toxin is taken from Diazona Angulata, a reclusive sea squirt found off the coast of the Philippines which is believed to emit the poisonous liquid to protect itself from predators.

UT Southwestern Medical Centre researchers found that a synthetic version of the toxin was capable of blocking the development of cancer cells without damaging healthy cells.

Tests conducted on mice revealed that the growth of tumours could be reduced without some of the side-effects commonly found with other cancer treatments.

Dr John Schwab of the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute of General Medical Sciences expressed excitement at the finding.

"Not only has this UT Southwestern team identified a potent anti-cancer drug, but its unique mode of action avoids the kinds of side-effects that make cancer chemotherapy so difficult," he said.

The findings are published in the online version of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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