Southern Cross University senior lecturer and marine ecology researcher Dr Kirsten Benkendorff.
Southern Cross University senior lecturer and marine ecology researcher Dr Kirsten Benkendorff. Matthew Deans

Humble sea snails could hold cures for health complaints

SEA snails could be the next medical marvel cancer patients turn to.

The Muricidae sea snail family is found on rocky reefs and has been used in India to treat illness, particularly gynaecological problems among women.

In Australia, Southern Cross University senior lecturer and marine ecology researcher Dr Kirsten Benkendorff has been researching the snails' anti-bacterial properties for about a decade and has witnessed some encouraging results in medical trials.

She has tested an extract from the common sea snails in preclinical trials to treat human tumours.

Dr Benkendorff will build on her own research and similar research from Flinders University at a series of workshops to be held in regional towns in NSW and Queensland this week.

 

Sea snails.
Sea snails.

Medical experts from Australia and India will use the collaborative workshops to further the research and create an intellectual property agreement for future research funding applications.

 

Dr Benkendorff said Muricidae had been successfully used in India to treat uterine cancer and gynological problems in women.

"It is very exciting to be involved in a workshop like this to find out specifically what other people have been using Muricidae for in other countries like India," she said.

"They have used Muricidae as a last resort before surgery on patients suffering from a prolapsed uterus."
The scientists will visit the National Marine Science Centre in Coffs Harbour, SCU in Lismore and the Bribie Island Marine Station during the workshop.

The project is supported by the Australian Government under the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund.


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