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Rattlesnake venom could be a new cancer treatment

Researchers from the Butantan Institute, in collaboration with the University of São Paulo (USP) and the University of Ribeirão Preto (Unaerp), revealed promising results in an innovative study. Research suggests that a specific toxin found in rattlesnake venom, known as crotoxin, has the potential to induce the body's defense cells to fight cancer more effectively.

The study was published in a scientific journal and involved tests with mice that suffered from peritoneal cancer. Professor Priscila Andrade Ranéia Silva, from Unaerp, one of the researchers involved, explained that the experiment was conducted both on animals and on cells grown in the laboratory. The objective was to observe how crotoxin would affect the body in the fight against cancer cells.

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Butantan Institute in partnership with USP and Unaerp are responsible for the research (Photo: reproduction/Azman Jaka/GettyImages Embed)


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Promising evidence

Mice were divided into two main groups during the tests: a healthy group and another with liquid tumors in the abdominal region. The cancer group was subdivided into three, receiving different treatments: a control with saline solution, one with a low dose of crotoxin and another with a higher dose. The healthy group underwent the same procedures to compare the effects of the toxin on bodies without the presence of cancer.

Crotoxin proved effective in activating the immune system of mice to fight tumors. Scientists are optimistic that this discovery could provide a sustainable and long-lasting anti-tumor immune response.

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Scientists monitored cancer-stricken mice treated with the poison. Those who received lower doses had a significant increase in M1 macrophages, essential cells in the fight against tumors. This 60% prevalence is comparable to that in healthy mice, indicating the effectiveness of the venom in maintaining a robust immune system even in the presence of cancer.

The group that received the lowest dose of the poison achieved a 27% reduction in tumor volume. There was also a decrease in the number of cancer cells and an increase in leukocytes, further strengthening the body's defense.

The research also revealed that the lowest dose of the venom increased the production of nitric oxide, a compound that contributes to the elimination of tumor cells, by 35%. This result was not observed in animals that received higher doses.

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Next steps

Researcher Priscila and her team are cautiously optimistic about the results. Before moving forward to human trials, they plan to investigate possible side effects and validate the effects in other experimental models. Safety and efficacy are priorities before considering clinical applications.

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Initial results are encouraging and point to a potential anti-inflammatory and modulating treatment that could revolutionize cancer therapy. Still, science moves forward with calculated steps, ensuring that each discovery is safe and effective for future generations.

Featured photo: Rattlesnake snake has toxins in its venom that can help treat cancer (Reproduction/Michael Svoboda/GettyImages Embed)

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Rattlesnake venom could be a new cancer treatment

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