Open Access Open Badges Research article

Anti-cancer properties of gastropodan hemocyanins in murine model of colon carcinoma

Vera Gesheva1, Stela Chausheva1, Nikolina Mihaylova1, Iliyan Manoylov1, Lyuba Doumanova1, Krassimira Idakieva2 and Andrey Tchorbanov1*

Author Affiliations

1 The Stephan Angeloff Institute of Microbiology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Acad. G. Bonchev Str. 26, Sofia, 1113, Bulgaria

2 Institute of Organic Chemistry, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Acad. G. Bonchev Str., bl. 9, Sofia, 1113, Bulgaria

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BMC Immunology 2014, 15:34  doi:10.1186/s12865-014-0034-3

Published: 29 August 2014



Various immunotherapeutic approaches have been used for the treatment of cancer. A number of natural compounds are designed to repair, stimulate, or enhance the immune system response. Among them are the hemocyanins (Hcs) - extracellular copper proteins isolated from different arthropod and mollusc species. Hcs are oxygen transporter molecules and normally are freely dissolved in the hemolymph of these animals. Hemocyanins are very promising class of anti-cancer therapeutics due to their immunogenic properties and the absence of toxicity or side effects. KLH (Megathura crenulata hemocyanin) is the most studied molecule of this group setting a standard for natural carrier protein for small molecules and has been used in anti-tumor clinical trials.


The Hcs isolated from marine snail Rapana thomasiana (RtH) and the terrestrial snail Helix pomatia (HpH) express strong in vivo anti-cancer and anti-proliferative effects in the developed by us murine model of colon carcinoma. The immunization with RtH and HpH prolonged the survival of treated animals, improve humoral anti-cancer response and moderate the manifestation of C-26 carcinoma symptoms as tumor growth, splenomegaly and lung metastasis appearance.


Hemocyanins are used so far for therapy of superficial bladder cancer and murine melanoma models. Our findings demonstrate a potential anti-cancer effect of hemocyanins on a murine model of colon carcinoma suggesting their use for immunotherapy of different types of cancer.

C-26 carcinoma; Murine cancer model; Rapana thomasiana; Helix pomatia; Hemocyanins; Anti-cancer activity