Cat poop and parasite are not words that you would normally like to hear, but when it comes to saving your cat’s life, it becomes a different story! It may be hard to believe, but according to a preliminary study, a parasite found in cat poop has somehow led to treatment wiping out cancer in lab tests, including ovarian cancer and aggressive melanoma. Crazy, right?!
On its own, the parasite, the single-celled Toxoplasma gondii, is not a good sign because it causes people and cats who are infected to become sick. When it comes to cats, it preys on its intestines and ends up coming out of their rear end. However, the genius scientists at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center have figured out a way to create a version of the parasite that can fight cancer.
David J. Bzik, a professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Dartmouth, explained: “We know biologically this parasite has figured out how to stimulate the exact immune responses you want to fight cancer.”
The parasite the Dartmouth scientists mutated is called “cps.” Current lab tests have shown that it is safe to use as it is non-replicating. Even if a cancer patient has a weaker immune system, often because of chemotherapy, cps can still retain its cancer-fighting powers in the patient’s body. During the lab studies, Bzik and his colleagues used cps in treating aggressive cases of ovarian cancer and melanoma in mice – all of which showed high rates of survival. Another amazing feature of cps? It can even be tailored to each individual patient — how mind blowing!
It’s not completely foolproof though, and more studies are needed for cps and all that it can do. Researchers are still trying to figure out how it works so well. However, if the whole cancer immunotherapy using cps is proven all over that it can create beneficial new cancer treatments and vaccines, the future may all lie in your cat’s litter box!
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