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Breakthrough in Cancer Therapy: Bengal’s scientists discover anti-carcinogenic snail extract

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Yes, you heard it right. A species of mollusks found in the creeks of Sundarbans, might be an answer to the future of cancer therapy. A group of scientists from Bengal has developed an extract derived from these snails, that can act as an alternate medicine to cancer and save patients from the side effects of chemotherapy. Since early last year they have been developing further on the product extracted. The Central government has also recognized this discovery and has granted the scientists 20 years patent on the extract. Experiments on mice is complete and results are positive. If the usage is successful on humans, then it will be a breakthrough in the discovery of low-cost medicines of cancer. Usually chemotherapy is very expensive and at times difficult for poor patients to afford.

Professor Debaki Ghosh has led this team of scientists who has been working on this project since 2005. They found a group of telescopic snails in the saline creeks of Sundarbans and they experimented on the extracts of this snail. Scientist Subhashis Roy, of the Agriculture Department at Neempith Ramkrishna Mission, first realized the extract can be used to make cheap contraceptives as well as for other purposes. Dr Parthasarathi Dasgupta of Chittaranjan Cancer Research Institute later joined the team and early last year they realized the anti-carcinogenic properties of the extract.

The snail which is known scientifically as Telescopium Telescopium has an extract that contains eight different kinds of proteins which can stop the further enlargement of a tumour. They used the Sarcoma 180 Tumour Model on healthy mice and rabbits, after they developed cancer, they were injected with the extracts of the snail. Cancer cells stopped growing and size of the tumour also reduced. The best part is this extract did not create side effects in the specimens which chemotherapy does, such as decrease in RBC, impact on kidney and liver. Now the group of scientists are trying to prove if all the proteins present in the extract are working in unison to stop the growth of cancer cells. Once that is discovered, the research can be taken to the final step of using the snail extract on humans.