|Blushwood berries in the wild. |
(Source: QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute)
Scientists have been surprised by the rapid cancer-fighting properties of a berry found only in Far North Queensland.
An eight-year study found a compound in the berry that could kill head and neck tumours as well as melanomas. An experimental drug derived from the berry, EBC-46, has so far been used on 300 animals, including cats, dogs and horses. In 75 per cent of cases, the tumour disappeared and had not come back.
There's a compound in the seed, and it works by three ways essentially: it kills the tumour cells directly, it cuts off the blood supply and it also activates the body's own immune system. There were no side effects, but what amazed scientists most was how fast it worked: the drug took effect within five minutes and tumours disappeared within days. One of the researchers explained: "Usually when you treat a tumour it takes several weeks for it to resolve, but this is very, very rapid. There's a purpling of the area, of the tumour itself, and you see that within five minutes
|A dog called Oscar pre-treatment with the berry compound (L)|
and 15 days after treatment (R).
(Source: QIMR Berghofer Medical Institute)
The findings of the pre-clinical trials suggested the drug could be effective in human patients. But the drug could only be used for tumours that can be accessed by direct injection and was not effective against metastatic cancers. It would be an additional treatment option, rather than a replacement for chemotherapy or surgery. Biotechnology company QBiotics has obtained ethical approval to begin human trials.
Please read the study published in PLOS ONE on the drug EBC-46 in mice.