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Cobra Venom Drug Stops Growth of Lung Cancer Cells

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A group of Italian investigators has found that an anti-cancer agent called α-CBT — derived from cobra venom — inhibited the growth of lung-cancer cells and increased the survival time of mice infected with human lung cancer, Science Daily reported June 9.

The researchers, led by Patrizia Russ, M.D., and Laura Paleri, left one group of mice untreated while another group was treated with a standard chemotherapy agent (cisplatin) and a third was treated with α-CBT. The group that received cisplatin survived 16 percent longer than the untreated mice, but those that received α-CBT survived 1.7 times longer than the cisplatin group and twice as long as the untreated group.

Russo said that the results showed that α-CBT is a powerful inhibitor of cell growth and was able to induce antitumor activity within the infected cells.

Proliferation of non-cancerous normal cells was not affected by α-CBT, which the researchers said may indicate that α-CBT may have limited or no toxicity to healthy tissue.

The researchers also found that the greater the number of infected cells, the higher level of response there was to α-CBT.

The study appeared in the June 15, 2009 issue of American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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