One of the obstacles in cancer research is the unreliability of obtaining live models with predictable and proven cancer incidence. That is, to test a method for treatment of any disease, there has to be an available animal that has a constant predictable mortality or morbidity rate due to the disease in question. A species that has a constant high rate of cancer is difficult to find.
However Rainbow trout develop hepatomas (liver cancer) with about 97% incidence when fed as little as 90 parts per billion of aflatoxin in their feed. This makes a very good model for cancer research.
Aflatoxin is produced by several different molds of the genus Aspergillus which grows on food and grains when less than ideal storage occurs and is therefore a threat to humans as well as lower animals.
The Rainbow Trout susceptibility to aflatoxin induced hepatoma is a contrast to other kinds of fish such as the coho salmon which is totally resistant to hepatoma even at very high challenges of aflatoxin. This comparison of a very susceptible and a non susceptible species has led to identifying enzymes differences in the two species that could account for the hepatoma susceptibility in trout.
The mission of HEAL is to crystallize the picture regarding the possible prevention of aflatoxin induced hepatoma by altering the mentioned enzyme system activity or other metabolic systems yet to be identified. Enzyme activity alteration has been done successfully in the test tube but has not been tried in the live trout. The demonstration of a change in hepatoma susceptibility to aflatoxin in trout, mammals and cell cultures leads to application in humans. This is a different direction than most of the current cancer research. We feel that it will be a necessary piece of the total puzzle.
Another expected outcome of using this particular method for changing an animals cancer susceptibility is the elimination of many of the severe side effects of current chemotherapy. [See also Research Projects page]
Click here for more detailed information describing research with the enzymes in trout and coho salmon relative to aflatoxin induced hepatoma.