The tobacco plant’s natural defence mechanisms could be harnessed to kill cancer cells in the human body.
Scientists have identified a molecule in the flower of the plant that usually fights off fungi and bacteria - and were stunned to find it also has the ability to identify and destroy cancer.
Called NaD1, it works by forming a pincer-like structure that grips onto lipids present in the membrane of cancer cells and rips themopen, causing the cell to expel its contents and explode.
There is some irony in the fact that a powerful defence 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 Mark Hulett of the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science in Melbourne said.
‘The next step is to undertake pre-clinical studies to determine what role NaD1 might be able to play in treating cancer.'
The preclinical work is being conducted by the Melbourne biotechnology company Hexima.
'So far the preliminary trials have looked promising,' said Dr Hulett.
Source - Daily Mail