• Denmark's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Danish discovery raises hopes for a cancer cure

The Local · 13 Oct 2015, 08:55

Published: 13 Oct 2015 08:55 GMT+02:00

Danish scientists Ali Salanti and Mads Daugaard were looking for an effective vaccine against malaria in pregnant women but they may have discovered something much more powerful. 
 
Salanti, a malaria researcher at the University of Copenhagen (KU), and Daugaard, a cancer researcher at the University of British Columbia (UBC), discovered that the carbohydrate that the malaria parasite attaches itself to in a pregnant woman’s placenta is identical to a carbohydrate found in cancer cells.
 
 
A Copenhagen-based team of scientists recreated the protein used by the malaria parasite and then added a toxin. When the toxin-carrying parasite seeks out cancer cells, the toxin is released and the cancer cell is killed. 
 
“We examined the carbohydrate’s function. In the placenta, it helps ensure fast growth. Our experiments showed that it was the same in cancer tumours. We combined the malaria parasite with cancer cells and the parasite reacted to the cancer cells as if they were a placenta and attached itself,” Salanti said in a KU press release.
 
The process has been successfully used on cancer-inflicted mice and Salanti’s team at KU is working on a vaccine for humans that they hope will be ready for testing within four years. 
 
After his discovery, Salanti reached out to former KU student Daugaard, who now heads UBC’s Laboratory of Molecular Pathology at the Vancouver Prostate Center. The Danish and Canadian teams have since found that the malaria protein is able to successfully attack more than 90 percent of all tumours in mice. The new approach has shown promising results in treating non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, prostate cancer and metastatic bone cancer. 
 
“By conducting tests on mice, we have been able to show that the combination of protein and toxin kill the cancer cells,” Daugaard said.
 
KU and the involved scientists have created a biotech company, VAR2pharmaceuticals, to focus on clinical development with an eye toward human testing. 
 
Story continues below…
“The earliest possible test scenario is in four years time. The biggest questions are whether it’ll work in the human body, and if the human body can tolerate the doses needed without developing side effects. But we’re optimistic because the protein appears to only attach itself to a carbohydrate that is only found in the placenta and in cancer tumours in humans,” Salanti said.
 
If the vaccine does work on humans, it would not be made available for pregnant women as “the toxin will believe that the placenta is a tumour and kill it, in exactly the same way it will believe that a tumour is a placenta,” Salanti said. 
 
The Danish scientists’ work has recently been described in the scientific journal Cancer Cell
 

For more news from Denmark, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Denmark offers help to earthquake-hit Italy
A firefighter works in the night at a collapsed house following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy. Photo: STEFANO RELLANDINI/Scanpix

The Danish government is willing to assist Italy in the rescue and reconstruction process as the country attempts to recover from Wednesday's deadly earthquake.

21-year-old man arrested for Copenhagen car fires
At least 22 cars and three mopeds were burnt. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Scanpix

Amager resident arrested after more than 20 cars were torched over the weekend.

Denmark aims for ‘first smoke-free generation'
Photo: Kyrre Lien/Scanpix

The Danish government on Wednesday released the details of what it called a “historic" plan to combat cancer.

Denmark takes small step towards medicinal cannabis
A cannabis plant. Photo: Coleen Whitfield/Flickr

A trial programme gets the okay in southern Denmark.

Danish police chase clues in motorway ‘stone murder’ case
Police technicians look for clues on the overpass. Photo: Kim Rune/Scanpix

Local residents and businesses have offered to put up rewards for information.

Danish MPs to visit Australia's Nauru migrant camp
Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen said she'd use the trip as a fact-finding mission on Australia's "grotesque" system. Photo: MARIE HALD/Scanpix

One lawmaker vows to "ask some of the questions that the Australian government is preventing journalists from asking."

Danish MP: EU a bigger threat than Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Crimean officials last week in a hand-out photo from the Kremlin. Photo: Sputnik/Kremlin/Alexei Nikolsk/Scanpix

Danish People’s Party MP Marie Krarup is under fire for saying that the EU is “without a doubt” a bigger threat to Denmark than Russia.

Denmark to get year’s ‘last summer weather’
Time for one last trip to the beach? Photo: Thomas Rousing/Flickr

Temperatures could reach as high as 30C by week’s end in what is likely summer’s final hurrah.

Copenhagen vehicle fires continue for third night
The Copenhagen car fires have drawn comparisons to a similar spate of incidents in Malmö, pictured here. Photo: Johan Nilsson/Scanpix

For the third night in a row, Copenhagen Police reported that vehicles in the city had been torched by unknown arsonists.

Two straight nights of car fires in Copenhagen
The Copenhagen incidents come after a spate of more than 70 car fires in Malmö, as pictured here. Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT/Scanpix

Has Sweden's spate of car fires now spread to Denmark?

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Per capita, Denmark is Europe’s Olympic champ
Sport
Denmark is Europe’s Olympic (per capita) champion
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Female jogger left 'near death' in Copenhagen attack
National
Female jogger left 'near death' in Copenhagen attack
EU breathes down Denmark’s neck over bad air quality
National
EU breathes down Denmark’s neck over bad air quality
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Foreigners fill more than half of all new jobs in Denmark
Business & Money
Foreigners fill more than half of all new jobs in Denmark
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Why you should learn Danish (and how it will benefit you)
Society
Why you should learn Danish (and how it will benefit you)
Robbed in Rio: Danish Olympic team hit by thieves
Sport
Robbed in Rio: Danish Olympic team hit by thieves
Danish jets have bombed Syria for the first time
Danish jets have bombed Syria for the first time
Danish Muslim graveyard offers to bury French terrorist
National
Danish Muslim graveyard offers to bury French terrorist
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Danish Pokémon Go player finds dead body
Technology
Danish Pokémon Go player finds dead body
Danish MP: Ban Muslim immigration to Denmark
National
Danish MP: Ban Muslim immigration to Denmark
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Denmark can't keep up with trove of ancient discoveries
Denmark can't keep up with trove of ancient discoveries
Sponsored Article
Malmö to host global skateboard championship
Our complete coverage from the 2016 Roskilde Festival
Culture
Our complete coverage from the 2016 Roskilde Festival
Danish police use infamous 'jewellery law' for first time
National
Danish police use infamous 'jewellery law' for first time
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
Danes with foreign spouses to be hit by new restriction
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
International
After Brexit, Danish PM resists calls for similar EU referendum
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
International
Why Denmark won't try to follow the UK out of the EU
Copenhagen police tear down Christiania cannabis market
National
Copenhagen police tear down Christiania cannabis market
Danish PM: Orlando shooting act of 'hatred'
International
Danish PM: Orlando shooting act of 'hatred'
Society
Sex campaigns lead to Danish baby boom
National
Don't worry Denmark, the world still loves you
Culture
Danish diversity ad a massive social media hit – have you seen it?
2,218
jobs available