Scientists turn a new leaf to discover a compound in daffodils that targets brain cancer

November 1, 2010

When looking for new ways to treat aggressive brain cancers, an international team of scientists turned a new leaf and "discovered" the lowly daffodil. A new research study published in the November 2010 print issue of The FASEB Journal offers hope that a natural compound found in daffodil bulbs, called narciclasine, may be a powerful therapeutic against biologically aggressive forms of human brain cancers.

"We are planning to move a narciclasine derivative toward in within a three to four year period in order to help patients with cancers, including gliomas, as well as brain ," said Robert Kiss, Ph.D., co-author of the study from the Laboratory of Toxicology at the Institute of Pharmacy at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Brussels, Belgium. "We hope narciclasine could be given to brain cancer patients in addition to conventional therapies."

To make this discovery, Kiss and colleagues used computer-assisted techniques to identify targets for narciclasine in cancer cells. The strongest potential candidate to emerge was the eEF1A elongation factor. Researchers then grafted human melanoma brain metastatic cells into the brains of genetically altered mice. Results showed that the injected mice survived significantly longer when treated with narciclasine than those mice left untreated. The researchers believe that narciclasine selectively inhibits the proliferation of very aggressive cancer cells, while avoiding adverse effects on normal cells. Narciclasine could be used in the near future to combat brain cancers, including gliomas, and metastases such as melanoma brain metastases.

"Scientists have been digging in odd corners to find effective treatments for brain cancer for decades, and now they've found one in daffodils." said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The , "It doesn't mean that you should eat daisies or daffodils for what ails you, but that modern medicinal chemistry can pluck new chemicals from stuff that grows in the garden. This is a good one!"

More information: Gwendoline Van Goietsenoven, et al., Targeting of eEF1A with Amaryllidaceae isocarbostyrils as a strategy to combat melanomas FASEB J. 2010 24: 4575-4584. DOI:10.1096/fj.10-162263

Related Stories

Recommended for you

New findings explain how UV rays trigger skin cancer

October 18, 2017
Melanoma, a cancer of skin pigment cells called melanocytes, will strike an estimated 87,110 people in the U.S. in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A fraction of those melanomas come from ...

Drug yields high response rates for lung cancer patients with harsh mutation

October 18, 2017
A targeted therapy resurrected by the Moon Shots Program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has produced unprecedented response rates among patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer that carries ...

Possible new immune therapy target in lung cancer

October 18, 2017
A study from Bern University Hospital in collaboration with the University of Bern shows that so-called perivascular-like cells from lung tumors behave abnormally. They not only inadequately support vascular structures, but ...

Many pelvic tumors in women may have common origin—fallopian tubes

October 17, 2017
Most—and possibly all—ovarian cancers start, not in ovaries, but instead in the fallopian tubes attached to them.

Researchers find novel mechanism of resistance to anti-cancer drugs

October 17, 2017
The targeted anti-cancer therapies cetuximab and panitumumab are mainstays of treatment for advanced colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. However, many patients have tumors ...

New bowel cancer drug target discovered

October 17, 2017
Researchers at the Francis Crick Institute have discovered a new drug target for bowel cancer that is specific to tumour cells and therefore less toxic than conventional therapies.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.