In a new study, researchers found that it’s possible to produce a compound with anti-cancer properties directly from feverfew—a common flowering garden plant.
They extracted the compound from the flowers and modify it so it could be used to kill chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells.
CLL is a type of cancer which typically affects older people.
The research was conducted by a team at the University of Birmingham and other institutes.
Feverfew is grown in many UK gardens, and also commonly sold in health food shops as a remedy for migraine and other aches and pains.
The compound in the study is called parthenolide. It was identified by scientists as having anti-cancer properties several years ago.
Although available commercially, it is extremely expensive with poor “drug-like” properties and has not progressed beyond basic research.
In the new study, the team was able to show a method not only for producing the parthenolide directly from plants but a way of modifying it to produce a number of compounds that killed cancer cells.
The particular properties of these compounds make them much more promising as drugs that could be used in the clinic.
The results are demonstrations that parthenolide has the potential to progress from the flowerbed into the clinic
There are already several effective treatments for CLL, but after a time the disease in some patients becomes resistant.
The new finding may help develop a more effective treatment for CLL.
One author of the study is Dr. Angelo Agathanggelou, of the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Studies.
The study is published in Med Chem Comm.
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