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Can Cancer Be Cured with Algae?

A group of biological scientists from the University of California San Diego have recently succeeded in genetically modifying algae to produce a complex and inexpensive medication that could be used to treat cancer. Windermere caregivers will explain how this treatment works and what it means for people living with cancer.

The findings are the result of seven years of work on a project that involved proving that a common green algae known as Chlamydomonas reinhardtii can produce different therapeutic proteins in larger quantities and less expensively than using cells obtained from animals.

The scientists engineered the single-celled algae to create three-dimensional, complex proteins that have two domains. An exterior region harbors an antibody that will be used to locate and target cancer cells. The interior domain conceals a toxin that is meant to kill malignancies once the algae dissolve. Methods currently used by pharmaceutical companies involve attaching a purified toxic antibody on the exterior of a hamster cell. The fused cell is then purified again prior to administration. However, problems arise because the toxins are often lethal to the healthy cell and the process is also expensive.

Using algae, researchers are able to create the toxic substance within the chloroplasts of the cell, which is where photosynthesis occurs. In this location, the toxin has no effect on the cell. During trials the scientists were pleased to learn that none of the protein molecules leached from the cell prematurely. Each cell contained thousands of protein copies that all remained encapsulated. The commonality of the algae also makes the process more economical as it would be a fraction of the cost compared to other drug-making methods.

The scientists reported that the process was also very straightforward. For future endeavors, researchers are contemplating the possibility of altering algae to produce even more complex proteins and more domain options. They ponder being able to connect up to five domains together to create a designer protein that might have multiple functions and is not normally found in nature.

While scientists work to find an effective and inexpensive treatment for cancer, seniors can turn to other resources to manage their disease. Home Care Assistance is a trusted provider of comprehensive senior home care Windermere families can depend on. Highly trained caregivers work around the clock to offer medication reminders, transportation to chemotherapy treatments, and provide emotional support to seniors with cancer. Whether your loved one needs care on a live-in basis or for a few hours each week, Home Care Assistance can help. Call us today at (407) 232-7155 to speak with a knowledgeable Care Manager and schedule a no-obligation consultation for your loved one.