Thursday, September 24, 2009

Researchers Find Possible Cancer Cure in Tick Saliva

In the panoply of the Earth’s creatures, I place deer ticks at the very bottom of the totem pole. These stealthy members of the Arachnid family, miniature conveyors of diseases like borreliosis, babesiosis, and ehrlichiosis, are not my idea of God’s most promising contribution to the world. My aversion to ticks is probably due to the fact that I had a close encounter with a tick carrying Lyme. It had sneaked up on me, ridden around on my back undetected for 36 hours, before dropping off, sated with blood, to move into the next phase of its life cycle and bite again. Now, whenever I walk through the woods to Dyer Pond, I wear bug spray and try not to stand in one place for too long, outsmarting any of the attack-tick’s relatives, in search of a blood meal. And my nifty Ticked Off tool for tick-removal is always close at hand. (Readers who crave further details on my Lyme disease experience can search out this summary post.)

The doctor said the attack-tick was probably a nymph, so tiny they’re hard to see. Of course, one could argue the tick merely was the vector that transmitted disease, but I focused my fury on the poppy seed with eight hairy legs that had sapped me of all strength over a period of three months. (I always warn guests to be on the lookout whilst in the woods and flush any adult ticks I do find down the toilet.)

While lying in bed, four summers ago, with hardly the energy to open my eyes let alone make anyone breakfast, I remember wondering what purpose the lowly deer tick could possibly serve. So, imagine my surprise today when I read that ticks may actually have redeeming qualities that could offer extraordinary benefits to mankind. Yes, tick saliva may hold the cure for numerous cancers. Read about what researchers in Brazil discovered here.