Taming of the Shrew Spit

Soricimed, Moncton, New Brunswick Jenny Keleher March 31, 2016

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Click here to read the story at Biotech.ca.

The cartoon looking northern short-tailed shrew, a mouse-like animal excretes a paralytic agent in its saliva. This paralyzing aspect allows the small mammal to subdue prey. Still alive, but unable to escape, the prey can be stored until the shrew is ready for a snack. When Dr. Jack Stewart was a biochemistry professor at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick he set out to study and decode the unique properties from the shrew’s saliva, ultimately synthesizing the paralyzing component.

Originally thought to be a treatment for pain relief further research has opened up even more capabilities including cancer-fighting potential. The treatment works by targeting a calcium channel that exists only in cancer cells. Calcium fuels the growth of the cancerous cell. By capping the channel, Soricimed’s drug cuts off the calcium supply and, ultimately, helps kill the cell. And because normal cells lack the calcium channel, they are left unaffected. The company has also developed a blood test that detects early-stage cancers by identifying the presence of the calcium channel.

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