The worst thing about having cats is cleaning their litter box while they eye you with disdain. But maybe you should THANK them . . . because someday their poop could save your LIFE.
Researchers at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire have found that a certain parasite in cat poop can shrink cancerous tumors in mice. And eventually, they might be able to harness its cancer-killing abilities for people too.
The parasite lives in their intestines, and it's called toxoplasma gondii. (Pronounced tock-so-plasma GAWN-dee-eye.)
It can also infect people, but our immune system usually fights it off. What they've found is that it stimulates the same immune responses that help fight off cancer.
In mice, they used a genetically modified version to shrink tumors from melanoma and ovarian cancer, and increased their rate of survival.
The researchers think it works because it's evolved to keep its host HEALTHY, by manipulating the immune system and preventing things like inflammation.
With more research, they might be able to create a synthetic form for people.