ad info

 
CNN.com
  health > cancer AIDS Aging Alternative Medicine Cancer Children Diet & Fitness Men Women
    Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback  

 

  Search
 
 

 
HEALTH
TOP STORIES

New treatments hold out hope for breast cancer patients

(MORE)

TOP STORIES

Thousands dead in India; quake toll rapidly rising

Israelis, Palestinians make final push before Israeli election

Davos protesters confront police

(MORE)

MARKETS
4:30pm ET, 4/16
144.70
8257.60
3.71
1394.72
10.90
879.91
 


WORLD

U.S.

POLITICS

LAW

TECHNOLOGY

ENTERTAINMENT

TRAVEL

FOOD

ARTS & STYLE



(MORE HEADLINES)
*
 
CNN Websites
Networks image


Sea moss may yield 'designer' therapies to attack human cancers

graphic

March 28, 2000
Web posted at: 11:58 a.m. EST (1658 GMT)

(CNN) -- Sea moss growing on rocks at the bottom of oceans may contain chemicals allowing scientists to make "designer" medicines that precisely target cancers.

Studying compounds from bryozoans and other life on or near coral reefs has occupied medical scientists for more than three decades, and now Dr. John Marshall of Georgetown University Medical Center reports particular promise with a marine-organism extract, "briostatin."

When used with traditional chemotherapies, briosatin can help customize treatments by modulating chemical signals within a cancerous cell to make the cell more nearly normal, he said.

"We are moving to a time where we are no longer going to treat cancer patients based on just what kind of cancer they have," Marshall said. "We won't treat all colon cancer patients the same. We won't treat all lung patients the same.

"Where we are moving to is taking an individual's cancer and measuring particular characteristics of it and saying, 'OK, you've got this wrong, this wrong and this wrong in your tumor and, therefore, I am going to treat you with Drug X, Drug Y and Drug Z because that is tailored to your cancer.'"

Marshall has used briosatin by itself and with other chemotherapy drugs in about 60 patients. The results have been "significant anti-cancer activity," plus briostatin does not cause hair loss.

Alone, the extract is not "powerful enough to be an answer for many cancer patients," he said. "I'd like to be proven wrong on that, (but) our hopes are that it will bring to chemotherapy enough additional power to help them significantly."

While briostatin does not prompt hair loss, it does produce increased muscle ache and fatique, Marshall said.

More than 30 other drugs derived from the ocean are being investigated by medical researchers. The ingredients for one drug, "squalomin," comes from the bottom-dwelling dog shark (also called dogfish and grayfish). This chemical has the ability to destroy blood cells necessary to feed tumors, thus starving the cancer cells.

CNN Medical Correspondent Eileen O'Connor contributed to this report.

RELATED STORIES:
First lady announces $27 million for cancer research
January 14, 2000
New blood test may save lives by detecting cancer's spread
December 6, 1999
Cancer institute revamps Web site
November 23, 1999
Meditation may add support during cancer treatment
October 1, 1999

RELATED SITES:
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute: Patients, Public and Mass Media
Cancer Prevention Information


Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
 Search   

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.