PEST OR HERO? Could cane toads help fight cancer.
PEST OR HERO? Could cane toads help fight cancer. Thinkstock

The cane toad could be a cancer-fighting prince

THE dreaded cane toad might actually have a use.

University of Queensland School of Pharmacy senior lecturer Harendra Parekh is researching how cane toad venom could be used to fight cancer.

Dr Parekh said the venom could become a lucrative export product for Australia, with interest from China for naturally derived health products.

"The Australian cane toad is very similar to the Asiatic toad, whose venom has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years," he said.

Former UQ PhD student Jing Jing discovered cane toad poison could kill cancerous prostate cells while sparing healthy cells.

"Before we take it to market, we need to improve the venom's solubility - which we are well on the way to achieving," he said.

"Investigating applications for other cancers is also firmly on our radar."

The research team hopes to begin testing on animals soon.

CANE TOADS

  •  Introduced to Queensland from Hawaii in 1935 to control the cane beetle
  •  Have since spread to Northern Territory, Western Australia and New South Wales
  •  Native to Cental and South America

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