Doctors Use Fish’s Neurotoxin To Improve Lives Of Cancer Patients

The pufferfish is most well-known for its unique bloated shape and prickly self-defense mechanism. It also has a reputation for being lethal: the creature secretes a deadly neurotoxin in some of its internal organs and on its skin, often making the fish a fatal meal for predators.

But the pufferfish’s fame may one day extend beyond its interesting appearance and poisonous qualities. The fish may soon be known for helping to improve the lives of cancer patients.

Researchers at the Brain and Spine Institute at the John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey are leading a phase II clinical trial, hoping to harness the effects of Tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin found in pufferfish. The research team, led by principle investigator Dr. Samuel Goldlust, hopes to utilize Tetrodotoxin (TTX) in new medications aimed at treating chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain, an often debilitating condition experienced by more than 40 percent of patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

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