Starfish could help fight cancer

Researchers in Vladivostok, in the Far Eastern region of Primorsky, have isolated four new biologically active steroid conjugates from the deep-water Pacific starfish Ceramaster patagonicus. The developers have published the results of their research in English in Marine Drugs.

That starfish-originating steroids could potentially be used as efficient blockers of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s has been long known; the steroids are said to help nervous cells survive through stressful situations like low levels of oxygen and glucose. In this new research, however, the team found that the unusual steroid molecules they had isolated demonstrated manifest anti-tumor effect against cancerous cells in the breast and the colon.

The team brought together specialists from The Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU), the Elyakov Pacific Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry (PIBOC), and the Zhirmunsky National Scientific Center of Marine Biology, all headquartered in Vladivostok.

“The steroid conjugates taken from the starfish prevent cancerous cells in nontoxic concentrations from dividing and multiplying. That gives us hope that the new substances won’t kill healthy cells in the human body,” said Timofey Malyarenko, PhD, associate professor at the Department of Bioorganic Chemistry and Biotechnology, FEFU’s School of Natural Sciences, and senior research fellow at PIBOC’s Laboratory of Marine Natural Compounds Chemistry.

The scientist believes God and funding organizations willing, the team could advance and start developing molecules with improved medicinal properties from the currently obtained steroid compounds.

This story initially appeared in Marchmont Innovation News, Russia’s daily business news website.

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