Monday, June 23, 2014

Tobacco Plant May Hold Cancer Cure

Scientists at the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science have discovered that tobacco plants contain a molecule that can be used to destroy cancer cells, according to the La Trobe University Bulletin.

The molecule, known as NaD1, is part of the tobacco plant's defense mechanism to protect itself from bacteria and fungi.
To study its cancer-fighting properties, Dr. Mark Hulett and his team used cells from lymphoma, prostate and cervical cancer, Live Science reported.
They discovered that when near the cancer cells, the molecule formed a pincer-like exterior. The pincer grips the membrane of the cells and rips it open. This causes the cell to explode and spill its contents.
After studying how NaD1 reacts to cancer cells, Dr. Hulett theorized that the molecule can be used to prevent the development of the disease.
The doctor explained that NaD1 reacts that way because the membranes of cancer and fungi cells may have similar characteristics.
Dr. Hulett noted that the discovery of a cancer cure in tobacco is a bit ironic.
"There is some irony in the fact that a powerful defense mechanism against cancer is found in the flower of a species of ornamental tobacco plant, but this is a welcome discovery, whatever the origin," Dr. Hulett said.
For now, the scientists are studying the therapeutic applications for the NaD1.
The doctor said, "We are confident there is potential for this discovery to therapeutic use in humans."
If future experiments on the molecule provide positive results, the NaD1 can be prescribed to cancer patients as a primary treatment method.
In addition, Dr. Hulett noted that using the molecule to treat patients will not have the same negative effects as other kinds of cancer therapies. Based on their experiment, the NaD1 did not have any negative effect on healthy cells, the Daily Mail reported.
"One of the biggest issues with current cancer therapies is that the effect of the treatment is indiscriminate," he explained. "In contrast, we've found NaD1 can target cancerous cells and has little or no effect on those that are healthy."


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