Scientists produce cancer-fighting substance from common daisy-like flower

Cancer-fighting substances can be extracted and produced from a common daisy-like flower, scientists have shown.

Researchers demonstrated a method for removing and modifying parthenolide from feverfew plants, making compounds which killed cancer cells in laboratory tests.

The compounds, which destroyed chronic lymphocytic leukaemia cells, show promise of being developed into drugs, said the University of Birmingham, which carried out the research.

They appear to kill cancerous cells by increasing the levels of reactive oxygen species, an unstable molecule, to a critical point, it added.

Professor John Fossey, from the university’s school of chemistry, said: “This research is important not only because we have shown a way of producing parthenolide that could make it much more accessible to researchers, but also because we’ve been able to improve its ‘drug-like’ properties to kill cancer cells.

“It’s a clear demonstration that parthenolide has the potential to progress from the flowerbed into the clinic.”

Feverfew, which is sold in health shops as a remedy for migraines and inflammation, is a common flowering plant from the daisy family Asteraceae.

The study is published in the journal MedChemComm.

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