Medical researchers at the University of Freiburg have claimed that fish toxin could be used as a potential medication for cancer. The Yersinia species of pathogens can cause the bubonic plague and serious gastrointestinal infections in humans.
Dr. Thomas Jank, a pharmacologist and his fellow researchers in the research group led by Prof. Dr. Dr. Klaus Aktories at the University of Freiburg studied a pathogen of the Yersinia family which causes redmouth disease in salmon and trout, resulting in large financial losses in the fish industry.
The research group was able to identify a toxin injection machine in the Y. ruckeri genome and demonstrated that the toxin Afp18 in this injection machine is an enzyme that deactivates the switch protein RhoA, which is responsible for many vital processes in the cells of humans and fish. The research group injected the toxin Afp18 into zebra fish embryos, and found that the cell division was blocked, and the fish embryos did not develop. The toxin caused the actin filaments in the fish cells to collapse.
This is because the Afp18 attaches a sugar molecule, an N-acetylglucosamine, onto the amino acid tyrosine in RhoA. According to the scientists, this was a very unusual reaction in nature, and concluded that the fish toxin has great therapeutic potential in cancer treatment. The study has been published in the journal Nature Communications