Snake venom may hold the promise of fighting breast cancer, according to USC researchers. While studying the properties of copperhead snake venom, biochemist Francis Markland and his colleagues told an American Chemical Society meeting last week in Boston that the venom contains a protein that could block tiny cells known as platelets from binding together. They then figured the protein might help slow the growth of cancer by blocking the invasive actions of tumor cells, Markland said.
The researchers studied the protein's action in human breast cancer cells implanted in mice and found that the protein slowed the growth rate of the cancer by 60% to 70%. In addition, the mice that received the protein had a 90% reduction in the spread of tumor cells into the lungs, the study found.