There are some accidents you can forgive. Like possibly discovering the cure for cancer. According to a recent study, a group of Danish scientists might have done just that by discovering that a potential malaria vaccine had the unexpected side effect of destroying and killing tumours.
Malaria is a blood borne disease caused by the Plasmodium parasite. It is spread through humans by the bites of mosquitos and, according to UNICEF, kills over a million people around the world every year. Malaria is especially dangerous for pregnant women as the parasite may attack the placenta, which puts the child’s life at risk. In their ongoing efforts to prevent these specific infections, scientists from the University of Denmark made a remarkable observation: Due to the similar characteristics between tumours and placentas, the same technique malaria uses to attack and destroy placentas, it could also be used to destroy cancer tumours.
“The placenta is an organ, which within a few months grows from only few cells into an organ weighing approximately 2 pounds, and it provides the embryo with oxygen and nourishment in a relatively foreign environment,” study author Ali Salanti said in a statement. “In a manner of speaking, tumours do much the same — they grow aggressively in a relatively foreign environment.”