Just when you thought cats were completely useless animals with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, scientists have discovered that a parasite that lives in cat poop has led to a treatment that wipes out cancer in lab tests, including aggressive melanoma and ovarian cancer.
This single-celled parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, thrives in the intestines of cats and comes out the other end.
“We know biologically this parasite has figured out how to stimulate the exact immune responses you want to fight cancer,” explained David J. Bzik, a professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Dartmouth.
“The biology of this organism is inherently different from other microbe-based (treatments) that typically just tickle immune cells from the outside,” said senior research associate Barbara Fox. “By gaining preferential access to the inside of powerful innate immune cell types, our mutated strain of T. gondii reprograms the natural power of the immune system to clear tumor cells and cancer.”