A new study shows that a drug derived from a protein found in the malaria parasite stopped chemotherapy-resistant bladder cancer tumors growing in mice. The researchers say that the finding could lead to much-needed new treatments for cases of bladder cancer that do not respond to standard therapy.
The international team behind the study – which is published in the journal European Urology – includes members from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada.
Senior author Mads Daugaard, a senior research scientist at the Vancouver Prostate Centre and the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, and an assistant professor of urologic science at UBC, says that this the first time that the idea of using malaria proteins to treat cancer has been put “into a direct clinical context.”
“There is a massive clinical need to find new treatments for bladder cancer and we saw an opportunity to target this disease with our new malaria drug,” he adds.
The bladder is a hollow organ in the pelvis that stores urine before it leaves the body. Muscle tissue in the walls of the bladder allow it to stretch to accommodate urine.
Bladder cancer arises when cells in the bladder grow out of control. As more cancer cells grow, they can develop into a tumor and spread to neighboring tissue and other parts of the body.
The American Cancer Society estimate that there will be approximately 79,030 new cases of bladder cancer and 16,870 deaths from the disease in the United States during 2017.