• Malaria Protein (green) and Cancer Cells

Malaria Protein (green) and Cancer Cells (Photo : ir.net)

Scientists might have accidentally discovered a breakthrough in the hunt for a cure for cancer, by learning that a certain malaria treatment could be effective in the battle against the deadly disease. Danish researchers found that the mosquito-spreading ailment's vaccine proteins can protect pregnant women's placenta from malaria, and also effectively attack various types of cancer tumors.

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The findings were published in the journal Cancer Cell.

Researchers tested the malaria protein on thousands of samples and found it was 90 percent effective, according to Oregon Live. It successfully treated several types of cancer including leukemia and brain tumors.

Scientists combined a bit of protein in the malaria vaccine, with a toxin. The tweaked protein can dig into cancer cells and then kill them by releasing the toxin.

Researchers discovered that the malaria protein attaches itself to a particular carbohydrate in both cases. This discovery could help to find a cancer cure.

The carbohydrate helps to protect a pregnant woman's placenta as malaria therapy. However, it can also attach to cancer cells and then destroy them.

Ali Salanti is a University of Copenhagen researcher. He said that scientists have been looking for decades for a connection between a placenta's and tumor's growth.

The new method has been tested in cells and mice with cancer. Scientists hope to run clinical trials of the new cancer treatment on humans within the next four years.

In the lab tests the mice were infected with three types of cancers. The new treatment was effective in treating lymph node, prostate, and bone cancer.

Salanti explained that the big question mark is if a human body can handle large treatments without side effects developing, but his research team is hopeful, according to The Independent. That is because the protein seems to just attach to a carbohydrate in a cancer tumor.

It is estimated that 8.2 million people worldwide died of cancer in 2012.