"Contortrostatin is a disintegrin purified from southern copperhead snake venom. Disintegrins are small, disulfide-rich proteins containing an R/KGD (Arg/Lys-Gly-Asp) sequence at the tip of a flexible loop protruding from the main polypeptide chain. Integrins are a family of cell surface proteins found on many cell types that mediate interactions between cells, and between cells and their surroundings. Contortrostatin binds to integrins on the surface of cancer cells and inhibits tumor growth and metastasis. Contortrostatin is unique from all other disintegrins described to date in that it is a homodimer, which means it has two identical peptide chains held together by covalent disulfide bonds. We have been investigating the anti-tumor activity of contortrostatin using a breast cancer model. Our findings indicate that contortrostatin blocks several critical steps in tumor metastasis, and is, therefore, more potent than other agents which only block a single step. In addition, contortrostatin significantly inhibits invasion of breast cancer cells through an artificial barrier similar to the tissue surrounding blood vessels. This action was most likely due to the ability of contortrostatin to inhibit cell motility."

Alternative News

Help at Hand

Whether you're looking for an alternative treatment for morning sickness or symptoms of menopause, you'll find a clear view of the possibilities in New Choices in Natural Healing for Women (Rodale,1997, $30), a guide that details 30 nondrug therapies for more than 70 conditions that affect women.

A Shot of Ginseng, With a Twist

If you're avoiding alcohol, beware of tinctures like ginseng and echinacea, many of which pack an unadvertised punch. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms recently tested 55 ginseng extracts and found that only seven contained no alcohol. To find out about a particular brand, call the bureau's public information office at 202/927-8500.
Go Natural-Safely

When you're aching in the wilds, it seems only fitting for Mother Nature to come to your rescue. Adventure Medical Kits has assembled an herbal first-aid kit that supplies more than just the traditional pain relievers, bandages, and minor-emergency tools. The handy $55 tote includes aloe vera ointment to soothe sunburns and scrapes, arniflora gel to reduce inflammation in strained muscles, ginger extract to ease motion sickness and other nausea, and echinacea to fend off colds and flu. To order the kit, call 800/324-3517.

Arthritis Truth

Desperate for relief from chronic pain, arthritis sufferers spend an estimated $1 billion a year on unconventional therapies ranging from lasers to snake venom. Some of these treatments can help, but many have harmful side effects. The Arthritis Foundation cautions people to be skeptical of products that claim to work for all types of the disease (there are more than 100) or that don't list ingredients. For more information or to order the brochure Unproven Remedies, call 800-283-7800.

Green Power

Laboratory studies last year showed that antioxidants in green tea help prevent the cell damage that can lead to cancer. Now it appears the leaves may hold even greater good fortune. Scientist at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have found that these compounds also kill cells once they ve become cancerous, while leaving healthy cells unharmed. The researchers say green tea may soon be used in cancer treatment as well as prevention.

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