Rays of Resilience

Shellfish-Derived “Cockle-Chemo” Could Treat Cancer As Effectively As Traditional Chemo

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An effective substitute for chemotherapy has been found in a seemingly strange place: the common cockle.

Only it’s actually not so strange. Apparently, sugars (polysaccharides) from mammals have been studied and experimented on for quite some time by scientists interested in cancer research.

But now they’re finally getting significant results.

Photo: Adobe Stock/WavebreakmediaMicro

Photo: Adobe Stock/WavebreakmediaMicro


The study was published in the journal Marine Drugs, led by researchers Abdullah Faisal Aldairi, Olanrewaju Dorcas Ogundipe, and David Alexander Pye.

They tested the sugars against a variety of cancer cells, and found it was successful against leukemia, breast, lung, and colon cancer cells. In fact, the treatment was just as effective as traditional chemo but with much lower toxicity — making it an especially promising treatment for childhood cancers.

Photo: Adobe Stock/Jasmin Merdan

Photo: Adobe Stock/Jasmin Merdan

“The ‘Holy Grail’ of children’s cancer chemotherapy is to maximize the destruction of the cancer whilst minimizing damage to normal cells and tissues,” said Dr. David Pye, Director of Child Cancer Research Charity Kidscan at the University of Salford and one of the researchers on the study. “Sugars as therapeutic treatments should help to minimize harmful side-effects.”

Cancer treatment for children is often a weaker dose of the same chemo cocktails adults take. But this treatment would be gentler and come with fewer devastating side effects.

Photo: Adobe Stock/ukimurakung

Photo: Adobe Stock/ukimurakung

Cockles are a type of shellfish that are found in Europe and along the north and northwest coast of Africa. The edible shellfish are easily gathered from sand and mud, as they live just centimeters below the surface. They’re abundant as well as easy to capture, and cheap to boot.

On top of that, extracting the sugars is a simple process.

It’s an exciting breakthrough in finding effective, powerful cancer treatments that aren’t also detrimental to healthy cells in the body.

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C. Dixon likes to read, sing, eat, drink, write, and other verbs. She enjoys cavorting around the country to visit loved ones and experience new places, but especially likes to be at home with her husband, son, and dog.
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