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Mint in Anti-Cancer Trials
Researchers at the University of Salford, Manchester, have discovered a type of mint leaf, long used in traditional Chinese medicine, that appears to destroy cancer cells. (July, 2004)
Mint may Fight Cancer
Scientists seeking a cure for cancer have discovered a type of mint leaf that can destroy cancer cells. Experts have used a type of Chinese mint to create a chemical that destroys the blood vessels that fed the tumour, causing the cells to die. The chemical has only so far been tested in the laboratory but experts hope to begin human trials as soon as funding can be secured.
Professor Alan McGowan at Salford, who has led the research, said the findings were "very exciting" and could pave the way for better targeted cancer treatments. "All cancers require a blood supply it they are to survive and grow," McGowan said "If we can target and destroy these blood vessels then we will have a treatment that will be applicable to all forms of cancer in both children and adults."
The substance is formed from an extract derived from a Chinese relative of common garden mint, scutellaria barbata. Whereas traditional cancer treatments work by attempting to destroy the cancer cells themselves, the mint attacks the tumour's blood vessels, starving it of oxygen and nutrients.
Dr Sylvie Ducki, who worked with the project, added that this type of treatment would reduce side effects. "While most current chemotherapy targets things that are in the tumours, these things are also present in healthy cells, and the chemotherapy hence leads to side effects such as hair loss... Here we have a drug that targets very specifically the blood vessels which feed the tumour."
Researchers hope to have completed live trials within 18 months and human trials within three years, if funding can be found.