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   Aug 02

New cancer treatment found in common wild flower by University of Birmingham scientists

University of Birmingham researchers used plant extracts to create new compounds that killed leukaemia cells

University of Birmingham researchers used plant extracts to create new compounds that killed leukaemia cells

Scientists in Birmingham have discovered how to create a new cancer treatment from a common wild flower found in the UK.

Their research means the daisy-like plant called feverfew could be used to develop a new prescription drug in the fight against cancer.

Researchers discovered a method for extracting a naturally-occurring substance called parthenolide from the leaves of the plant. It was used to make compounds that killed cancer cells in laboratory tests.

The compounds, which destroyed chronic lymphocytic leukaemia cells, show promise of being developed into drugs, said the University of Birmingham, which carried out the research.

They appear to kill cancerous cells by increasing the levels of ‘reactive oxygen species’ to a critical point, it added.

Professor John Fossey, from the university’s school of chemistry, said: “This research is important not only because we have shown a way of producing parthenolide that could make it much more accessible to researchers, but also because we’ve been able to improve its ‘drug-like’ properties to kill cancer cells.

“It’s a clear demonstration that parthenolide has the potential to progress from the flowerbed into the clinic.”

The study is published in the journal MedChemComm.

Feverfew, which is sold in health shops as a remedy for migraines and inflammatory conditions, is a common flowering plant from the daisy family.

The strong-smelling herb – sometimes confused with the similar-looking chamomile – grows wild on roadsides and wasteland in the UK and is also found in gardens.

It has a long history in traditional herbal medicine, dating back to the time of the ancient Greeks.

As its name suggests, feverfew was primarily a treatment for fevers – but it has also been used to treat psoriasis, arthritis, dermatitis, insect bites, allergies, asthma, digestive problems, toothache, earache, nausea, vomiting, tinnitus, infertility and problems with menstruation and childbirth.

According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, based in the USA, extracts of the plant inhibit the release of enzymes from white cells found in inflamed joints, with a similar anti-inflammatory effect thought to occur in the skin to ease psoriasis.

Source: The Birmingham Mail

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