The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lab Report

Fish oil vs breast cancer

Prolonged consumption of fish oil may protect one from breast cancer, say Calcutta scientists. A team of researchers from Jadavpur University and Texas A&M University in the US has found that fish oil exhibited significant reduction in abnormal proliferation of tumour cells in rats that have been chemically induced to develop breast cancer. Besides, fish oil also increased expression of the p53 gene — a tumour suppressor often referred to as genome’s guardian angel because of its role in preventing genome mutation. The activation of P53 by fish oil may appear to be a promising approach for preventing the development of breast cancer, the scientists said in a paper appearing in the online version of Cancer Cell International.

Friendly fungus

A commonly found soil fungus may help break down endosulfan — a pesticide believed to trigger harmful genetic mutations — into safe by-products, according to researchers at North Maharashtra University. The scientists led by Pravin Puranik of the School of Life Sciences found that the fungus Aspergillus niger is capable of completely metabolising the pesticide, which is used for the protection of a number of crops including tea, coffee, sugarcane and cotton. Their studies showed that the fungus can take up to 400 milligramme per millimetre of endosulfan, several times the concentration of the agrochemical generally found in soil. Significantly, A niger also breaks down a toxic intermediate of endosulfan — endosulfan sulphate, which again is a persistent chemical. The complete bioremediation of the organochlorine pesticide takes just 12 days and “evolution of carbon dioxide during endosulfan metabolism” is an indication of this, the researchers write in the June issue of the journal, International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation.

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