Cancer 'smart bomb' created from a crocus

by Deborah Braconnier report
Colchicum autumnale autumn crocus. Image: Luc Viatour/ Wikipedia.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists from the UK have figured out a way to turn chemicals found in the crocus flower which blooms throughout the UK into a ‘smart bomb’ of sorts when it comes to a new cancer medication. This new treatment may potentially create a drug that is capable of targeting cancerous tumors, such as associated with breast, colon, lung and prostate, without causing any side effects.

The researchers, from the Institute for Cancer Therapeutics at the University of Bradford, have published their work in Cancer Research and had it showcased at the recent British Science Festival.

While the native British Autumn crocus has been known for a long time for its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, its colchicine is unfortunately also toxic to other cells within the human body. For this reason, the use of the crocus and the chemical colchicine has not been used for medical treatments.

The researchers, led by Professor Laurence Patterson, have found a way around the toxic nature of the chemical when it comes to healthy tissue in the body and determined a way to focus the toxicity towards the cancerous tumor. By attaching a chemical 'tail' to the colchicine molecule, the researchers have been able to deactivate the toxic properties until it reaches the targeted cancer. Cancer tumors contain an enzyme called MMP and this enzyme effectively removes the ‘tail’ and activates the colchicine. Once activated, the colchicine goes into action breaking up the blood vessels that feed the tumor and essential starve it. Because the drug is activated in the tumor, it does not affect outside tissue and no side effects have been noted.

At this time, tests have only been conducted on mice but the results have been remarkable. In mice testing, all mice have responded to the treatment and in as many as half of the studies, the mice appeared cured of the . The drug is effective toward cancers that produce tumors and the researchers have tested breast, colon, lung, prostate and sarcoma tumors at this point.

Clinical trials on human patients are expected to being in as soon as 18 months and will be conducted at St. James’s University Hospital. The researchers hope that if the clinical trials prove successful, a new drug could be available within the next six to seven years.

Related Stories

Using nanotechnology to improve cancer treatment

Dec 03, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Research directed by Basar Bilgicer, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and a member of the Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics initiative at the University of Notre Dame, could ...

FDA acts against unapproved colchicine

Feb 06, 2008

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it will take action against companies marketing unapproved injectable colchicine, a drug used to treat gout.

Drug kills prostate tumor cells

Aug 11, 2006

U.S. scientists have developed an experimental RNA-based drug -- the first of its kind -- that kills prostate cancer cells, without harming normal cells.

A longer lasting tumor blocker

Apr 28, 2009

On the heels of dismaying reports that a promising antitumor drug could, in theory, shorten patients' long-term survival, comes a promising study by a Japanese team of researchers that suggests a potentially better option. ...

Recommended for you

US OKs first-ever DNA alternative to Pap smear (Update 2)

10 hours ago

U.S. government health regulators have cleared a genetic test from Roche as a first-choice screening option for cervical cancer. It was a role previously reserved for the Pap smear, the decades-old mainstay of women's health.

New breast cancer imaging method promising

16 hours ago

The new PAMmography method for imaging breast cancer developed by the University of Twente's MIRA research institute and the Medisch Spectrum Twente hospital appears to be a promising new method that could ...

Palliation is rarely a topic in studies on advanced cancer

17 hours ago

End-of-life aspects, the corresponding terminology, and the relevance of palliation in advanced cancer are often not considered in publications on randomized controlled trials (RCTs). This is the result of an analysis by ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

antialias_physorg
4.5 / 5 (2) Sep 13, 2011
At this time, tests have only been conducted on mice but the results have been remarkable. In mice testing, all mice have responded to the treatment and in as many as half of the studies, the mice appeared cured of the cancer.


Woha...usually stuff like this sounds too good to be true. But in this case the simplicity and elegance of the method makes me hope that something will come of it.
Isaacsname
5 / 5 (1) Sep 13, 2011
" Never been used for medical treatments " ..?

I'm well familiar with Colchicine, have worked with it to induce polyploids in plants ( old school GMO's baby :).

Methinks the author of this here article needs to go crack some books.

http://en.wikiped...lchicine
fuviss_co_uk
not rated yet Sep 13, 2011
"The researchers hope that if the clinical trials prove successful, a new drug could be available within the next six to seven years."

why so long ? ill people doesn't have a time,better is to die from the cancer or take little risk and use this new treatment now ?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Sep 13, 2011
why so long ?

There's several phases which a drug will have to go through before being approved.
http://en.wikiped...al_trial
This takes considerable time.
retrosurf
not rated yet Sep 14, 2011
colchicine:

See Gout, treatment.
roblet
not rated yet Sep 19, 2011
You know what, I am terminally ill with a large Sarcoma in the pelvis, thorax abdomen area. I was selected for trials during my last treatment and believe me when you are this ill you are happy for any offer of help. This new s-bomb sounds amazing, so why can this not be offered for trial with peeps like me, who are basically awaiting the end. If there is no hope of cure, nothing is lost from allowing this to go ahead now. How many lives will have passed in seven years time.