Spider venom could lead to breast cancer cure, says James Cook University professor
CAIRNS scientists are studying spider venom with the hope it could hold the key to curing breast cancer.
James Cook University prof Norelle Daly has received a $200,000 research grant from the National Breast Cancer Foundation to analyse whether the venom of tarantulas and funnel web spiders can kill breast cancer cells.
"Spider venom could hold great potential," said the biochemist, who joined JCU last month.
"This is early days and we're doing preliminary research that we hope will go somewhere."
Prof Daly will test her theory in the lab by isolating the hundreds of molecules in spider venom and exposing them to cancer cells to see how they react.
She hopes the complex mix of molecules in the venom could offer a solution to breast cancer treatment.
"What we would hope to find is a molecule that looks promising in killing the cells," Prof Daly said.
"You would like to see that you could prevent the cancer from spreading and remove it as well."
Prof Daly is also studying the spiky, red Asian gac fruit, which has shown promising results in the lab in fighting cancer.
Prof Daly said studies have shown the exotic fruit contains chemical properties which inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
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Ready to strike: James Cook University prof Norelle Daly, who received a $200,000 research grant, studies an Australian tarantula in her quest to finding a breast cancer cure in spider venom. Picture: MARC McCORMACK