>> A possible breakthrough in disease treatment, and maybe even cancer, coming from an unlikely source, a crayfish.>> I'm Reuters' Rinat Harash deep in the southern Israeli desert. These pools behind me are bursting with blue crayfish which were initially raised here for decorative purposes. But the farmer who raised them, and the team of scientists say, they discovered that these creatures may possibly hold the answer to help treating various diseases.
>> This is Yosi Ben. About 12 years ago he noticed his band of Australian blue crayfish had an unusual trait.>> These crayfish rebuild their shells ten times faster than any other crustacean around the world. The shell is built from calcium. Then I discovered a little organ comprised of calcium that the crayfish produces or collects.
I took this organ to scientists who studied it and it became clear that the entire world was looking for it.>> Calcium deficiency in humans can lead to osteoporosis, and is involved in many other diseases. Like parathyroid issues. But until his discovery, Ben said, all calcium carbonate in the market came in a crystal form.
His crayfish, however made theirs in what's called an amorphous state. Less structured than a crystal yet stable. It's over a hundred times more soluble in water, according to Ben, and more easily absorbed. Now he runs a biotech firm named after it, Amorphical, to manufacture synthetic supplements of this new calcium.
He says animal tests showed prevention of bone loss from osteoporosis. Ben plans to start clinical trials on Israeli cancer patients next year after animal tests showed changes in the behavior of affected cells. A lot of pressure riding on this tiny creature.