Researchers in the United Kingdom (UK) have found that a common weed in the cabbage family has anti-cancer abilities and this could be the answer for treating cancer patients.
Professor Alessandra Devoto of the Royal Holloway, University of London and her colleagues tested whether the leaves of this plant which could stop the growth of breast cancer cells in the lab and found that exposure to the leaf sections of Arabidopsis thaliana stopped the growth of cancer cells in an experiment of both cancer and non-cancer cells.
The findings could be the next treatment for cancer without harming healthy cells which existing treatments cannot do as most of them are quite toxic to both to cancer and healthy cells, ‘The Science Times’ reported. Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, accounting for an estimated 9.6 million deaths, or one in six deaths, in 2018.
The cancer burden continues to grow globally, especially in low- and middle-income countries, exerting tremendous physical, emotional and financial strain on individuals, families, communities and health systems. Tackling cancer has therefore become imperative and a priority.
According to the report, cabbage, broccoli, mustard, oilseed rape, Arabidopsis thaliana and other plants in the Brassica family are known for their bioactive chemicals that contain anticancer properties, like the chemical sulforaphane which is found in broccoli sprouts, cabbage, Chinese kale, and watercress.
Devoto said that she was interested in Arabidopsis because it belonged to the cabbage family, which could contain the same compounds.
This plant is commonly known as an invasive weed and is not commonly eaten although it is edible. It was also not previously thought of as a medicinal herb. To supercharge the weed, the team decided to apply jasmonate hormone on the leaves of Arabidopsis.
The researchers said that their experiment with the weed is still in its early stage, but it is interesting that a plant commonly used in experimental studies before, could have anticancer properties.