Friday, June 22, 2007

A squirt of hope

Why should we care about the environment and all those species of flora and fauna upon the earth? Well, one reason is that one of them might save your life someday. From a science blog:
A toxin derived from a humble sea squirt, Ecteinascidia turbinata (pictured, right), shows great promise as an anti-cancer drug. This toxin, known as trabectedin (ecteinascidinin-743), shrinks and even completely removes cancerous tumors in more than half of the patients treated with it, according to a new study. The patients treated with this drug suffered from a specific type of liposarcoma cancer, which is associated with chromosomal mutations. Liposarcomas are a rare but malignant tumor that grow in the fat cells in deep soft tissue, such as inside the thigh or within the abdominal cavity.

Dr Federica Grosso, from the Sarcoma Unit of the Instituto Nazionale Tumori in Milan, Italy, and her colleagues from sarcoma centers in Boston, London, Lyon and Paris, conducted this study. Out of 51 patients with myxoid liposarcomas that were treated only with trabectedin, they found that two had their tumors disappear completely (complete response) while another 24 experienced at least a 30% shrinkage of their tumor (partial response), representing an overall response rate of 51%.
Click here to read the blog entry. This study will be published in the July issue of The Lancet Oncology.

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