Turning Toad Venom Into Cancer Treatments

Researchers in China and Australia are investigating the anti-cancer properties of bufalin, a steroid found in traditional Chinese medicine made from toads.

AsianScientist (Mar. 23, 2017) – Dried skin secretions from toads could soon be used in a treatment for the benefit of cancer patients, thanks to researchers at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and the University of Queensland (UQ).

Chan Su (蟾酥) is a traditional Chinese medicine derived from toad by-products. It is used to treat heart failure, sore throats, skin conditions and other ailments.

“It also contains molecules—some of which are toxins and steroids—that are used in Chinese clinics for the treatment of various cancers,” Professor Harendra Parekh said.

“Our collaboration with PolyU researcher Dr. Chen Sibao has focused on developing a soluble formulation of purified bufalin steroid, a key component of Chan Su which doesn’t dissolve easily, making it difficult to administer as a medicine.”

PolyU will lead the patent prosecution process in China and facilitate further development of the treatment, having collaborated with UniQuest, UQ’s main commercialization company.

“This Australia-China collaboration began with a seed grant from the Shenzhen Government of China, so we are delighted that it has progressed into a potential product which combines novel technologies with traditional Chinese medicine,” said Professor Terrence Lau Lok-ting, Director of PolyU’s Innovation and Technology Development Office.


Source: University of Queensland; Photo: Shutterstock.
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