Octopus Versus Cancer: Eight legged Sea Creature Joins Ants As Another Unexpected Disease Fighter

Some months ago we posted about the discovery that ants can “smell” cancer – even without true noses. Today it is octopus against cancer. Word has come that a compound in their signature ink kills cancer cells.

The octopus is a very unusual creature with a higher level of intelligence than might be expected in a soft-bodied boneless creature.

Hollywood frequently uses big octopi as enemies. Here John Wayne fights in vain for his life in Reap The Wild Wind (1942)

Brittanica describes them as cephalopod mollusks of the order Octopoda. They estimate 300 species exist. Octopi (or octopuses) range from about two inches in body length to 9 feet. The soft body makes them versatile and able to crawl into small spaces. The ink can serve as a camoflage. For some octopi it can paralyze an attacker.

selective focus photography of octopus
A more typical octopus. Some octopi do have dangerous poisons to deliver. Most are harmless to humans but deadly to crabs, shellfish and sometimes each other. Photo by Pia on Pexels.com

According to New Scientist the compound in question is ozopromide. The compound appears to kill cancer cells but leave other cells alive. The compound is found in the common octopus (Octopus vulgaris). Research is being conducted by Martin Samuel Hernandez-Zazueta. He is a professor at the University of Sonora. Mexico. He and his team have synthetically manufactured the compound and are studying its anti-cancer properties.

It is hoped that ozopromide could lead to new treatments for various cancers.

Ants, meanwhile, may have a role to play in detecting cancers. Ants do not have nasal structures in the human sense. Their antennae, however, are very sensitive. The antennae can and do detect odors. French researchers found that certain ants can be trained to detect odors released by cancer cells in human urine. The insects can be used as a cheap test to help find and treat some form of cancers. They are able to identify certain odors associated with cancers.

Fire ant worker, Solenopsis invicta
Fire ant worker, Solenopsis invicta by Insects Unlocked Project is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0 Some 12,000 ant species exist. They range in value to humans from the destructive fire ant to the possible cancer fighter formica fusca/

Ants offer several advantages. They can learn quickly, and retain memory of the smells. They are abundant and cheap to use. Lead author of the French studyr Baptiste Piqueret has earned his Ph.D is studying ants. He is currently a researcher with the Ulrich Institute.

There are about 12,000 species of ants in the world. The study focused on Formica fusca.

Published by ursusrising

long time writer and editor living in Los Angeles

Leave a Reply