Daffodils to Fight Cancer: The Flower, Long Used in Folk Medicine to Fight Tumors, Makes a Comeback
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Daffodils to Fight Cancer: The Flower, Long Used in Folk Medicine to Fight Tumors, Makes a Comeback

News Staff — Universite Libre de Bruxelles
Feb 28, 2018

Scientists discover how the flower's anti-tumor properties work.

(Belgium) – A study published in the scientific journal Structure (Cell Press) describes the anti-cancer effects of a natural alkaloid extracted from Daffodils. Led by Denis Lafontaine, affiliated with the Faculty of Sciences at the ULB, the researchers have discovered that this compound triggers the activation of an anti-tumoral surveillance pathway. (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Will Daffodils soon help curing cancer? A study from the RNA Molecular Biology Laboratory published in the scientific journal Structure, took a first step in that direction.

Led by Denis Lafontaine, the researchers extracted a natural anti-cancer compound from Daffodils. They established that this compound, an alkaloid named haemanthamine, binds to the ribosome. Ribosomes are nanomachines essential to the survival of our cells because they synthesize all our proteins. To sustain their unrestrained growth, cancer cells rely on increased protein synthesis: they are therefore particularly sensitive to treatments that inhibit the production and the function of ribosomes.

In this new study, the researchers have shown that haemanthamine blocks the production of protein by ribosomes, thus slowing growth of cancer cells... (Photo Credit: D. Lafontaine - ULB)

This study provides for the first time a molecular explanation to the anti-tumoral activity of Daffodils used for centuries in folk medicine. Haemanthamine belongs to a large family of therapeutic molecules of natural origin: numerous other alkaloids, used in human health, are extracted from plants, such as morphine (potent pain killer), quinine (anti-malarial agent), and ephedrine (anti-asthmatic).

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Universite Libre de Bruxelles

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