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Eleuthera Sponge May Cure Cancer: Bahama Journal
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Page 1 of 1Total of 1 messages
Posted by:Oct 30th 2003, 05:04:41 pm
Fig Tree News TeamBahamian Sponge Found Off Eleuthera May Cure Cancer

Julian Reid

A new drug derived from a sponge found in The Bahamas is a potential cure for cancer, some scientists believe.

The results of one test of the cancer-fighting potential of the possible wonder drug, called Discodermolide, have reportedly proved that it would be 400 times more potent than some other cancer treatments on the market.

The sponge was found by Amy Wright, director of Harbor Branch Biomedical Marine Research, a Fort Pierce, Florida-based facility along with her team of specialists.

Ms. Wright told the Bahama Journal yesterday that Harbor Branch scientists have been exploring the waters of The Bahamas since 1984, but only recently came across the sponge, which taxonomists have not yet named.

"On a recent trip, we went down The Bahamas chain and it was near Eleuthera [where the sponge was found], but we think that it likes to live on big boulders in deeper waters around 1500 feet or so," she said.

The drug is currently in its first phase of clinical trials, according to Ms. Wright, who said that in addition to tackling various cancers, it is being tested for possible cures for Alzheimer's disease and HIV/AIDS.

Ms. Wright said she is hopeful that the possible wonder drug could be approved by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in about three or four years.

"It's currently in phase one clinical trials for cancer, but it's still got another three or four years before we'll know whether it is really useful as a new cancer treatment," she said.

But officials of the Cancer Society of The Bahamas are less excited about the find.

Terry Fountain, an epidemiologist and vice president of the Cancer Society, said although the organization welcomes new treatments, officials can not be too excited until the treatments have been proven effective.

But Mr. Fountain said that it is good that persons are finding things that may lead to better care for persons with cancer.

He noted, however, that the approval process for new drugs by the FDA is a lengthy one, which involves first testing on animals and if it is promising, enough (i.e. as good as or better than what is currently on the market) might be selected for human testing.

Mr. Fountain said that until the drug has been put through the tests and clinical trials and are shown to better the care of patients than what is presently on the market, the Cancer Society would continue to urge cancer patients to continue with their present course of medication.

"As it is for us in The Bahamas and the Cancer Society, we will continue to suggest that whatever is available right now that is working in most instances, persons continue to use," he said.

In the meantime, Ms Wright said that Harbor Branch is anxious to provide opportunities for Bahamian scientists interested in participating in their research activities.

"We always offer opportunities for Bahamian scientists to come with us on the missions, but only once did somebody want to go," she said. "We would love to work with Bahamian scientists to continue this research and other research."

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