Study finds sloth fur may cure breast cancer, treat various diseases

In terms of where animals fall on the joke spectrum, sloths usually get the raw end of the deal—probably because there’s a sin named after them. They’re not just an adorable internet sensation anymore, though: Turns out their fur just might hold the key to curing cancer. 

It’s not the fur itself, so don’t expect to rub a sloth on yourself and stay cancer-free like it’s some kind of spell from a cute version of American Horror Story. In fact, it is the chemicals excreted by microbes in the sloth’s fur that could fight a number of human diseases, including breast cancer.

Popular Science reported on a study examining the noble sloth’s fur, saying that it could fight “a host of human pathogens”:

“The chemicals excreted by microbes in sloth fur had potent activity against a host of human pathogens, and even breast cancer cells, and possess anti-malaria and antibacterial properties. The study found that chemicals isolated from fungi in three-toed sloths were deadly for parasites that cause malaria.”

The chemicals in sloth fur attack bacteria differently than most man-made drugs, which “suggests a potentially new mode of action” for treating diseases. As a result, PopSci has called sloth fur’s treatment scope a “potential goldmine for drug discovery.” 

We’re still years away from any applicable medication from the discovery, but that it is an option at all ought to lend a little credibility to the once brow-beaten sloth. If only they had told us sooner.

[Death and Taxes]