Often, the secret to promising new drugs and remedies can be found in our own gardens

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Often, the secret to promising new drugs and remedies can be found in our own gardens

Post by Tee on Sun Oct 23, 2011 7:00 am

Sat Oct 15 2011 09:58:07 GMT+0400 (Arabian Standard Time) Oman Time


When it comes to seeking out new life-saving medicines there is no better resource than Mother Nature herself. However scientists do not always have to scour remote parts of the globe to find potential cures for deadly illnesses. In the latest breakthrough experts at the University of Bradford’s Institute of Cancer Therapeutics are developing what’s been dubbed a cancer “smart bomb” from the autumn crocus, a flower native to Britain.

The purple-flowered plant, which is in blossom around this time of year, contains a chemical called colchicine that has been found to be potentially anti-cancerous.

Colchicine is a toxic substance that would poison the body if used in its current form so scientists have developed an inactive form of the chemical. This is “switched on” only if it comes into contact with a protein that is specifically released by cancer cells. Plants and flowers, even the common garden varieties we might all be familiar with, may harbour remedies to many modern ailments. The idea is that the flower-powered smart drug circulates harmlessly in the body until it comes into contact with malignant cells. Once it does it becomes active and then destroys them, leaving healthy cells intact.

Research is still at an early stage and it’s likely to be several years before the crocus drug is used in daily medical practice.
The breakthrough confirms that plants and flowers, even the common garden varieties we might all be familiar with, may harbour remedies to many modern ailments.

“I think most people would be absolutely amazed at the extent to which plants and flowers are used in medicine,” says Guy Barter, chief horticultural adviser for the Royal Horticultural Society. “Even most gardeners will have no idea about the range of treatments that might be found in plants.

“They offer a great many opportunities for the development of therapeutic medicines.

“In the past people relied on plants and flowers because even if there was a doctor in the area they could rarely afford treatment. “Yet it’s vital to remember that while most garden flowers and plants are harmless some can be poisonous and unless you know what you are doing you could do yourself serious harm.”
So how exactly are everyday flowers and plants helping in the development of new modern medicines?

http://www.timesofoman.com/featuredetail.asp?fid=1348

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