New cancer cell killing compound developedOctober 15th, 2008 - 2:49 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, Oct 15 (Xinhua) Researchers at the University of Washington in US have developed a compound from common anti-malarial herbal drug artemisinin which is claimed to be a highly selective cancer cell destroyer, opening new possibility of safer chemotherapy.The new compound, derived from the sweet wormwood plant, is said to be more than 1,000 times stronger than currently available drugs in destroying cancer cells.
The scientists attached a chemical homing device to artemisinin that targets the drug selectively to cancer cells, sparing healthy cells.
The results were published in the latest issue of Cancer Letters journal.
“The compound is like a special agent planting a bomb inside the cell,” said Tomikazu Sasaki, one of the senior researchers.
In the study, the researchers tested their artemisinin-based compound on human leukaemia cells. It was highly selective at killing the cancer cells.
Preliminary results show the compound is similarly selective and effective for human breast and prostate cancer cells, Sasaki said.
The researcher said that because the new compound has negligible side effects, it could be used in higher dosage safely than is possible with available medicines.
Sweet wormwood has been used in herbal Chinese medicine for at least 2,000 years, and is eaten in salads in some Asian countries.