OCT 02, 2019 08:17 AM PDT

Compound in Daffodils Can Help Fight Cancer

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Preventing the growth of tumors presents a challenge for scientists in finding a cure to cancer. Now however, researchers from the University Libre de Bruxelles have identified a natural alkaloid in daffodils that may be useful in developing anti-cancer drugs.

To sustain growth and multiply, cancer cells rely on manipulating the body’s ways of synthesizing proteins- something that happens in our cell’s ribosomes. Thus, they tend to be very sensitive to treatments that inhibit the ability of these ribosomes to produce proteins. 

In research led by Denis Lafontaine, scientists found a natural anti-cancer compound, known as haemanthamine, when studying daffodils. Binding to ribosomes, they were observed to slow the growth of cancer cells by blocking their ability to produce proteins. They also found that haemanthamine reduces the production of ribosomes in the cell’s nucleus, which in turn triggers the activation of an anti-tumor surveillance pathway that leads to the stabilization of the protein p53 and the eradication of cancer cells (Libre de Bruxelles: 2018).  

In particular, the activation of the protein p53 is known as an important element in treating cancer due to its role in promoting cell death, also known as apoptosis. This comes as, under normal circumstances, cancer cells generally do not undergo this process, instead growing rapidly and overriding signals that would otherwise lead them to undergo cell death. 

Thus, in avoiding this process, they may then propagate further, both forming into tumors and  spreading to the rest of the body in a process known as metastasis. In stabilizing protein p53 and allowing these cancer cells to undergo cell death, this daffodil alkaloid may help prevent this from happening- both preventing the formation of cancerous tumors and the spread of cancer throughout the body (Persaud: 2018). 

Yet, although this process may help in the destruction of cancer cells, by itself, it may still be problematic. This is because non-cancerous cells also require ribosomal synthesis to function and so, although haemanthamine can be effective in killing cancer cells, it may also kill healthy cells too. Thus, rather than launching this alkaloid into clinical trials, the researchers are currently focusing on understanding its structure better, ideally to create a molecule that functions similarly against cancer, only without the negative side effects. 


 

Sources 

 

Libre De Bruxelles, Universite 

Persaud, Nicholas: Princeton.edu

About the Author
  • Writer with a keen interest in genetics, psychology, health and everything in between. Currently focused on the interplay of genetics and society to understand how to create meaningful interactions and environments.
You May Also Like
NOV 14, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
NOV 14, 2019
Comparison of Three Frontline Breast Cancer Drugs
Breast cancer affects 250,000 women in the U.S. annually. Those with most common form test positive for hormone receptors (HR+) and negative for the HER2 r...
NOV 14, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
NOV 14, 2019
Does TruBrain Really Work?
TruBrain is a mix of different substances claimed to help people increase verbal fluency, avoid distractions, and boost their mental output. Created by a t...
NOV 14, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
NOV 14, 2019
How Does Ketamine Treat Depression?
In recent years, ketamine has received growing interest for its neuroprotective effects. Known to alleviate symptoms of depression in just hours whereas co...
NOV 14, 2019
Health & Medicine
NOV 14, 2019
All you need to know about Orphan Drugs
Orphan drugs are medicinal products intended for the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of very rare life-threatening diseases. To offset the high development cost of orphan drugs, in 1983,...
NOV 14, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
NOV 14, 2019
CBD Extract for Cannabis Addiction
Some people believe the secret to curing a hangover is to drink more alcohol the morning after a night of binge drinking - “the hair of the dog that...
NOV 14, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
NOV 14, 2019
Fecal Transplants Could Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome
According to the American College of Gastroenterology, between 10 and 15% of Americans have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Although treatments are current...
Loading Comments...