In details

Brazilian discovers tick saliva can be used against cancer

A study conducted at Unesp, in São Paulo, reveals positive use of arthropod saliva.

Your dog may be carrying a very important cancer-fighting parasite: the tick. A team of researchers, led by Unesp's biology professor Maria Izabel Camargo-Mathias, was able to stem the growth of tumors by extracting the salivary gland from female ticks. The study was published at the end of 2014.

Tests performed on mice prove the effectiveness of the substance. Cancer cells were injected into the muscles of the animals and then tick saliva extract was applied. After three weeks it was noted that compared to other rodents that did not undergo treatment, the tumor cells were controlled.

The idea of ​​using the tick's salivary gland to fight cancer didn't come out of nowhere. “There are over 400 properties in tick saliva. They are substances with various potentials, such as anti-coagulants and anti-inflammatory. So we decided to apply it to cancer cells ”, explains the research coordinator, Maria Izabel, who has been studying ticks for over ten years.

"It is a substance capable of containing cell division and tumor growth" Prof. Maria Izabel

Rhipicephalus sanguineus

It is not known which substance is present in the salivary glands of the ticks Rhipicephalus sanguineus is responsible for inhibition specifically. Further studies will be needed to know the biochemical composition of these extracts.

At first, tests were done on muscle tumors and resulted in a nearly 70% inhibition of tumor growth. Recently the team began to study the effects of the substance on the liver, lung and kidney, and found that the extract does not affect the physiological system of individuals. “It's not an anti-cancer substance because it doesn't kill the cancer cell. But it is a substance capable of containing the division and tumor growth ”, reiterates Maria Izabel.