Japanese Silk Moth Can Deactivate Cancer Cells


One moth species that has been in Japan for a very long time is the Japanese Silk Moth. Females lay eggs in the fall, though their larvae lie dormant inside the egg throughout the winter. During the winter, the larvae secrete within their bodies a substance called Yamamarin that causes a temporary arrest of cell activity and division so that the larvae can wait out the difficult winter. When the warmer spring comes, the larvae awaken and begin moving. It may be that becoming active in the spring rather than the winter helps the moths to survive longer.

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Related Literature

Suzuki, K. Konchuu no yuu suru tokushu na kinou no kaimei to sono ouyou kaihatsu. Applied Entomology Research Laboratory, Agriculture and Life Sciences Program, Iwate University Faculty of Agriculture.

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It is anticipated that Yamamarin will be used to develop new pesticides that either inhibit the growth of insects that damage crops or that make them go dormant. Yamamarin is also expected to lead to new cancer treatments. Conventional cancer medicines have serious side effects because they negatively impact both normal and cancerous cells. Yamamarin could be used to create a new cancer medicine that only attacks cancerous cells, producing few side effects. In normal cells, DNA regulates the pace and extent of cell division. Cancer occurs when a DNA abnormality causes cells to divide repeatedly and uncontrollably. Inducing a dormant state in the cancer cells would cause them to stop dividing and increasing in number, which could be an effective treatment for alleviating the advancement of cancer and its symptoms.

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