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Danish scientists may have accidentally discovered the cure for cancer, during an experiment looking for ways to protect pregnant women against malaria.

Malaria can cause huge problems for pregnant women because it attacks the placenta. However, the scientists’ discovery suggests that malaria proteins can also attack cancer cells. The malaria protein attaches itself to a carbohydrate which ensures the placenta grows quickly, prohibiting its progress. The scientists have shown how the protein can have the same effect in tumours, attaching to the same carbohydrate that encourages the growth of cancerous cells. This comes after years of scientists searching for a connection between the placenta and tumours, due to their similar, aggressively rapid growth. In combining the part of the protein that the malaria vaccine uses to bury into cells with a toxin, they created a molecule that can bury into cancer cells and release the toxin, thereby killing them off.

The scientists have already tested the process in cells and on mice with cancer and hope to be able to test the method on humans within the next four years. The tests on mice produced wide success; the process was tested on three different types of cancer and all three showed improvement following the treatment as many of the cancer cells were killed.

Biology and Chemistry students should investigate the process by which malaria and cancer affect the body and what other diseases may have similar connections. Medicine applicants should look further into the methods used by scientists to cure diseases, including the ethical principles that involve testing new treatments.

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