Scientists look to sea for cures
RESEARCH to determine whether a chemical substance found in sea sponges can cure cancer and malaria is under way at UWC.
The research is trying to find nano-particles that can deliver marine chemical compounds directly to cancer cells so that they do not adversely affect normal cells.
A review article in the South African Journal of Science this week overviewed how a potent chemical substance produced by a group of sponges known as latrunculid sponges could possess not only anti-cancer and antimalarial properties, but anti-microbial properties as well.
This chemical substance serves as a feeding deterrent to predators and gives these sponges their colour.
However, these toxic chemical compounds do not just target cancer cells or malaria parasites, they were found to be toxic to normal cells as well.
Authored by Professor Michael Davies-Colema, UWC Dean of Natural Sciences Faculty, Professor Edith Antunes, Professor Denzil Beukes and Dr Toufiek Samaai, this article reviewed nearly a quarter of a century of work on lantrunculid sponges and their chemistry, as part of the marine diversity programme.
The programme was initiated at Rhodes University.
Davies-Coleman said: “Due to the possible biomedical applications of marine sponges and other marine invertebrates, our article highlights the importance of protecting South Africa’s unique marine invertebrate resources.” |
SCIENTISTS are looking at sea sponges as a cure for cancer and malaria.