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he hunt for a vaccine against malaria in pregnant women has provided an unexpected side benefit for Danish researchers, namely what appears to be an effective weapon against cancer - reported the University of Copenhagen.
The scientists behind the vaccine aim for tests on humans within four years.
Danish scientists from the University of Copenhagen and the University of British Columbia (UBC) face a possible breakthrough in the fight against cancer, which may result in a genuine medical treatment for the dreaded disease.
The hunt for a weapon to fight malaria in pregnant women has revealed that, expressed in popular terms, armed malaria proteins can kill cancer. The researchers behind the discovery hope to be able to conduct tests on humans within four years.
In collaboration with cancer researcher Mads Daugaard from the University of British Columbia in Canada, malaria researcher Professor Ali Salanti from the Faculty of Medical Health and Sciences, UCPH, has revealed that the carbohydrate that the malaria parasite attaches itself to in the placenta in pregnant women is identical to a carbohydrate found in cancer cells.
In the laboratory, scientists have created the protein that the malaria parasite uses to adhere to the placenta and added a toxin. This combination of malaria protein and toxin seeks out the cancer cells, is absorbed, the toxin released inside, and then the cancer cells die. This process has been witnessed in cell cultures and in mice with cancer. The discovery has only just been described in an article in the renowned scientific journal Cancer Cell.