In this study, we examined the cytotoxic effects of four fractions from three species of New Zealand (NZ) surf clam on four common organ cancer cells. In most cases, a dose- and time-dependent inhibition on the proliferation of the cancer cells was observed. This was most significant in WiDr (colon) cells, where the percentages of viability reduced to as low as 6%, 5%, and 17% (at 1000 µg 72 h) by extracts from Diamond shell, Storm shell, and Tua tua species, respectively. A549 (lung) cells were the least susceptible to the treatment, with viability percentages at 82%, 15%, and 45%, under the same conditions. Induction of caspase-dependent apoptosis and alterations to the cell cycle further supported the observed morphological analysis. The ethanol, petroleum ether, and ethyl acetate fractions of NZ surf clam, rich in lipids and proteins, were more potent than their water-based counterpart. This is the first demonstration where extracts from NZ surf clams show the ability to inhibit the growth and proliferation of cancer cell lines. We suggest that NZ surf clam extracts have the potential to be further studied and developed as candidates for cancer supplementary management/treatment.
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