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Current Affairs

Sea Snail compound to reduce colorectal cancer risk

Date: 28 August 2019 Tags: Miscellaneous



The remarkable ability of a small sea snail to produce a colourful purple compound to protect its eggs has its potential in a new anti-cancer pharmaceutical. This has been discovered by researchers from Australia.



  • Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of the 9.6 million cancer deaths every year, with the World Health Organization reporting 862,000 deaths in 2018.
  • Compound derived from the substance produced by the mollusc's gland could be used as a preventative in bowel cancer.


  • Researchers at various universities of Australia have isolated one compound in the gland secretions from the Australian white rock sea snail (Dicathasis orbita) which has not only antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities, but important anti-cancer properties.
  • Research has shown that a specific snail compound can prevent the formation of tumours in a colon cancer model. The scientists  were also able to use sophisticated technology to trace the metabolism of the compound inside the body.
  • This is very important for drug development because it helps demonstrate the absence of potentially toxic side-effects of the compound inside the body.
  • Snail compound contains bromine like a unique fingerprint to trace how these types of compounds are metabolised inside the body and identify some potentially toxic metabolites from the crude extracts.
  • The research has potential to be used as a drug that can attack and kill cancer cells that have grown resistant to chemotherapy drugs.