Cancer conspiracies: Research to make you jelly

We’ve all heard the conspiracy – pharmaceutical companies are keeping a cure for cancer under wraps because treating cancer is more profitable.

Now, I don’t tend to make a habit of sticking up for big business, but there are a couple of quick points that suggest this isn’t the case.

  1. There’s more than 200 types of cancer and there’s not going to be a one-size-fits-all cure for all of them.
  2. Some people are already being successfully treated for cancer every day.
  3. It’s not just pharmaceutical companies researching cancer treatment – governments are, too.
  4. AND, scientists are regularly publishing promising findings for the future of cancer treatment, including some promising research that has come out of Korea.

Scientists and diving into their research and coming up with jelly-fied cancer-treating gold

Image of Nomura’s jellyfish from National Geographic

Research in Korea earlier this year showed promising results for treating cancer cells with extract from a Nomura’s jellyfish, which is about the same size as a human.

Although it was highly effective against one type of cancer, chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) cells, it was also found to have an effective against colon cancer and liver
cancer cells.

The scientists found that the jellyfish extract reduced cell growth for each type of cancer cell, although CML cells were particularly susceptible.

CML is a rare form of cancer that affects bone marrow, causing it to produce too many white cells. These cells then eventually crowd the bone marrow, which interferes with the body’s ability to produce normal blood cells. As the body starts to produce abnormal cells, it cannot fight infections properly.

Subjecting these cancer cells to the Nomura’s jellyfish extract resulted in apoptosis, best described as programmed cell death, that increased with both time and dosage.

Scientists already knew that jellyfish extracts have several biological functions, including antioxidant activities. However this study was a first in using jellyfish extract to treat cancer.

This new research doesn’t mean a new treatment is right around the corner, it does show that scientists are invested in finding new ways to understand how cancer cells act and how they can be treated.

Cancer is one of the leading causes of morbidity and death in the world and the global economic impact of cancer is substantial – we’re talking about $1.16 trillion in 2010.

That’s $1,160,000,000,000. That’s enough to buy everybody living in Los Angeles at least one Lamborghini Gallardo, apparently.

And, it’s increasing. I think we can all agree that this money can be better spent.

So next time you hear some talk about the big pharmaceutical companies conspiracy, remind them that there’s enough scientific research out there to turn their knees to jelly.

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