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Parasite protein linked to cancer


Cholangiocarcinoma is a deadly cancer of the bile ducts. When it is diagnosed, the doctor usually says that there is nothing that can be done: no treatment, no cure, nothing. This the cancer that killed Walter Peyton the football player, and it killed my beautiful wife Valerie last year.

New research out of Australia is opening doors to possible treatments and hopefully new cures. But before I go on with this story about the protein granulin, I want to tell you that there is a cure and warn you that most doctors don’t know about it, or if they do, won’t tell you about it.

Dr. William C. Chapman, M.D., the great transplant surgeon at Washington University in St. Louis and Barnes-Jewish Hospital , has been compiling a list of success stories for patients with Cholangiocarcinoma for the past 5 years. Dr. Chapman worked closely with a team of doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota who found that if they did an elaborate treatment with chemotherapy and radiation, followed by liver transplant, the bile duct cancer does not return. The Mayo Clinic or Barnes-Jewish Hospital websites provider more information. Also read the posts at Cholangiocarcinoma.Org a great resource for patients, families, doctors and health writers.

Annabel McGilvray of ABC reports that scientists have identified the protein in a fish borne organism that is a cause of one of the most deadly cancers _ Cholangiocarcinoma. The liver fluke is an organism found in fish. It can be killed by cooking but when the fish is eaten raw or not thoroughly cooked, it creates a high probability of causing a deadly cancer to grow in the epithelial lining of the bile duct that goes through the human liver and pancreas. Liver Flukes and the protein they carry are not the only cause of Cholangiocarcinoma but everyone should think about them before eating raw or undercooked fish, particularly in Southeast Asia.

The human liver fluke is endemic in areas where uncooked fish containing the parasite forms a substantial part of the diet (Source: Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters)

A protein secreted by liver fluke has been directly linked to the development of one of the worst forms of cancer _ bile duct cancer also known as Cholangiocarcinoma according to new Australian research.

Researchers at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, found that granulin, a protein and growth hormone, is produced by the human liver fluke (Opisthorchis viverrine) and has been shown to cause uncontrolled growth in human cells.

The findings, published today in the journal PLoS Pathogens, are the first to show that a growth hormone from a parasite can influence surrounding human cells.

"As far as we know this is the first report of a pathogen secreting a granulin that acts outside of its body on its host’s cells," says research supervisor, Dr Alex Loukas.

The human liver fluke is common in areas where uncooked fish containing the parasite forms a substantial part of the diet.

In northern Thailand up to 8 million people are infected with the fluke and, according to Loukas, as many as 1 in 6 will develop cancer of the bile ducts, known as Cholangiocarcinoma.

Loukas says Cholangiocarcinoma is the most common form of cancer in northern Thailand and the surrounding region, occurring at 10 to 20 times the rate of prevalence elsewhere.

Prior to the discoveries in Australia it was thought that damage to the bile duct lining was due to the fluke feeding on the lining, combined with the effect of carcinogenic compounds found in fermented fish widely eaten in South East Asia. Now it looks like the protein granulin is produced by the flukes as a way to heal the wounds caused by its feeding, and that process may be the major cause of Cholangiocarcinoma.

Loukas is looking for a vaccine to use on children that will attack the parasite and prevent the parasite infecting children in the first place.

"Using animal models in the future, we will look at could this granulin molecule secreted be the basis of a vaccine for human use," he says.

"If we can really focus control programs we should perhaps be selective and knock this parasite out in young children, because the people who develop cancer are the older people who have been infected for many years."

The findings may also be used in the search for a treatment for a second most carcinogenic parasite, the Schistosoma haematobium, which affects an estimated 200 million people in sub-tropical areas of Africa and is closely linked to bladder cancer.


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  1. someone says:
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    Hulda Regehr Clark, Ph.D., N.D. Found this out a long time ago.


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    Thanks for giving people somewhere else to look for a cure. But I do not see the granulin connection from Dr. Clark

  3. Mary McDowell says:
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    Please help me. My husband had a CT Scan last week his D.O. stated he had Cholangiocarcinoma. We see a surgeon for a consultation this Wed. to discuss a biopsy I suppose. Can anyone tell me is it to late to use some sort of wormer to kill the parasites out at this point. PLEASE HELP ME!

  4. Steve Lombardi says:
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    Wayne: Are you saying that eating sushi can cause this type of cancer? Steve

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    The aprsite is geogrpahic. They know that it exists in fair abundance in SE Asia. So it depends where the fish comes from and generally the fish in US sushi bars come from waters near our coasts. Howeven with flash freezing and air shipping the better sushi restaurants like Nobu’s and others get fish from all over the world. The second aspect of sushi is that the main type of fish _ tuna _ is a big ocean fish and not the small reef fish or lake/stream fish that has the liver fluke parasite. Of course the tuna is high in mercury content so you get sushi once a month anyway. Rare fish is very popular but cooked fish from safe sources is the way to go.

    An iteresting statistic is the Canadien and American indian populations (sorry if that is not the correct name) have very high incidence of this rare cancer of the bile ducts. I wonder about a fish connection but I would assume the scientists have tested for that. Cancers like this one (an adenocarcinoma in the bild ducts, pancreas or gallbladder) are thought to the result of an inflammatory process that scars the linings of the organs and could also be the result of other non-natural toxic substances.