MAR 27, 2015 03:06 PM PDT

Cane Toads Potentially Lucrative Export in Cancer Fight

Wait before you whack that toad. Not only is it frowned upon to kill cane toads inhumanely, but the amphibian's venom could be worth a bucket-load.

That's the message from The University of Queensland School of Pharmacy's Dr Harendra Parekh, who is exploring how cane toad venom can be used to fight cancer.

"People are killing cane toads by the millions for free, but it's potentially a very lucrative export market for Australia with the Chinese being extremely interested in naturally derived health products," Dr Parekh said.

"The Australian cane toad is very similar to the Asiatic toad, whose venom has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

"We already have several companies interested, as the Chinese value Australian toads because of the environment they enjoy here."

Dr Jing Jing, former PhD student at UQ discovered that cane toad poison could kill cancerous prostate cells while sparing healthy cells.

"However, before we can take it to market, we need to improve the venom's solubility (ability to dissolve) ? which we are well on the way to achieving," Dr Jing said.

"Investigating applications for other cancers is also firmly on our radar."

UQ has previously secured a seed grant from Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Shenzhen China for the work being conducted in Dr Parekh's group.

The research team hopes to begin validation in animals soon.

Cane toads were introduced to Queensland in 1935 to control the cane beetle, but quickly multiplied and were declared a pest.

They have since spread to the Northern Territory, Western Australia and New South Wales.

Source: University of Queensland
About the Author
  • Ilene Schneider is the owner of Schneider the Writer, a firm that provides communications for health care, high technology and service enterprises. Her specialties include public relations, media relations, advertising, journalistic writing, editing, grant writing and corporate creativity consulting services. Prior to starting her own business in 1985, Ilene was editor of the Cleveland edition of TV Guide, associate editor of School Product News (Penton Publishing) and senior public relations representative at Beckman Instruments, Inc. She was profiled in a book, How to Open and Operate a Home-Based Writing Business and listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Advertising and Who's Who in Media and Communications. She was the recipient of the Women in Communications, Inc. Clarion Award in advertising. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Ilene and her family have lived in Irvine, California, since 1978.
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