SVALBARD SCIENTISTS DISCOVER BREAST CANCER CURE? Molecule ‘selectively killed cancer cells,’ but as of now ‘working hard to see if it is possible to make medicine’

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Declaring a molecule found in Svalbard “can cure breast cancer” is a big, big headline, but – as with many scientific “breakthroughs” – comes with a big “what if.”

With that qualifier in mind, optimism a medicine will indeed be developed some day is being expressed by researchers at the Norwegian School of Fisheries (part of UiT Norway’s Arctic University) using a small molecule discovered in animals on the seabed off the coast of Bjørnøya in 2011. 

“We realized early on that it could be a huge finding,” Kine Østnes Hansen, an associate researcher at the university, told NRK this week. But it’s only nine years later they’re revealing “this drug selectively killed cancer cells.”

Their findings to date were published in the December issue of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

The molecule is part of a so-called hydroid – a collection of single cells joined together in a plant-like form and stuck on the seabed. Tests of its impact on multiple cell lines revealed many that were unaffected, but breast cancer cells showed the greatest impact.

The largest impact was the samples against a special type of breast cancer cells including triple-negative breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the most common type for women, with NRK reporting more than 3,500 Norwegian women were affected by it in 2018. About 15 percent of cases were the most aggressive form, known as triple-negative breast cancer, which is extremely difficult to treat because it does not respond to hormonal therapy or other medicines effective on other types of breast cancer.

The molecule discovered near Bjørnøya controls triple-negative breast cancer cell division, Hansen told NRK.

“If it can be developed into a medicine, it will be a completely new treatment alternative for a group of cancer patients who now have limited treatment options,” she said.

 

About Post Author

Mark Sabbatini

I'm a professional transient living on a tiny Norwegian island next door to the North Pole, where once a week (or thereabouts) I pollute our extreme and pristine environment with paper fishwrappers decorated with seemingly random letters that would cause a thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters to die of humiliation. Such is the wisdom one acquires after more than 25 years in the world's second-least-respected occupation, much of it roaming the seven continents in search of jazz, unrecognizable street food and escorts I f****d with by insisting they give me the platonic tours of their cities promised in their ads. But it turns out this tiny group of islands known as Svalbard is my True Love and, generous contributions from you willing, I'll keep littering until they dig my body out when my climate-change-deformed apartment collapses or they exile my penniless ass because I'm not even worthy of washing your dirty dishes.
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