Researchers Study Plant-Based Treatment for Equine Melanoma

Betulinic acid could become a safe and effective treatment for melanoma in horses, researchers said.
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A new, plant-based anti-cancer treatment is showing promising signs in horses with melanoma, German researchers have learned.

Betulinic acid, already used for treating human melanomas, could become an effective and safer alternative for treating equine melanoma compared to traditional chemotherapies, said Reinhard Paschke, PhD, Prof. Dr. habil., of Martin Luther University, in Halle, Germany.

Betulinic acid comes from the bark of white birch and similar trees. It attacks cancer cells by breaking down the membranes of the mitochondria—the cell’s “energy factory.” If a cancer cell’s mitochondria malfunctions, it lacks energy and, therefore, will die.

Paschke said he decided to test betulinic acid on equine melanomas when the owner of a gray horse contacted him after reading his research on melanoma treatment in dogs two years ago

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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