Thursday, 26 March 2015

Cane toads by the million lined up for export to China as anti-cancer remedy

Researchers at the University of Queensland hope to send ‘premium cane toads’ after discovering their venom has anti-cancer properties

Thursday 26 March 2015 06.04 GMT
Last modified on Thursday 26 March 201506.06 GMT

They may be Australia’s most hated pest, routinely clubbed to death by the public, but cane toads could soon prove an unlikely source of income – as an export commodity to China.

Researchers at the University of Queensland have discovered that cane toad venom is effective in fighting cancer, with the potency rivalling that of toads found in Asia that are used in Chinese traditional medicine.

The discovery opens up the possibility of sending millions of toads to China, where they would be systematically squeezed for their juices, which would then be mixed with herbs and consumed as medicine.

Harendra Parekh, from the university’s school of pharmacy, said Chinese companies were “queuing up” to get their hands on Australia’s cane toads.

“We don’t have any of the environmental pollution, such as heavy metal poisoning, that you see in China,” he told Guardian Australia. “So the Chinese see cane toads as living in a clean environment that doesn’t impact upon their venom.

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