Scientists have discovered several extracts and chemicals taken from tropical plants are able to kill certain types of cancer.
In a study carried out by the UK’s University of Portsmouth and University of Strathclyde, scientists tested the plant extracts on a number of ovarian cancer samples taken from patients.
The scientists from both institutions are now in the midst of developing a programme to test tropical plants to see if they can actually prevent ovarian cancer cells from growing.
There are now hopes the various ingredients found in such plants could be used to develop new anti-cancer medications.
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Ian Cree, the leader of the research from the University of Portsmouth, said: “This is a first; no-one has managed to use cells obtained directly from cancers to screen an entire library of plant extracts and we are very excited by the results obtained.
“The key now will be to obtain further funding to produce drugs from those samples showing that they can kill cancer cells.”
He added: “The method could also be used to find drugs to treat other cancers.”
Meanwhile, Alan Harvey, from the University of Strathclyde, commented: “Ovarian cancer's inherent danger to women's health is compounded by the fact that it is notoriously difficult to detect.
“The disease's high death rates urgently need to be dealt with through safe and potent new treatments.
“Our collection of natural plant samples gives us a broad range of possibilities for treatment and we have had good results from many plants.”