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Crocus 'smart bomb' could offer cancer cure

12 September 2011

Posted by Michelle Devonshire

Healthcare services could be substantially improved by the development of a new "smart bomb" treatment for cancer that uses an extract from crocuses.

Scientists from the University of Bradford have discovered a means of targeting solid tumours safely, with the drug staying inactive until an enzyme always found in such environments is encountered.

The anti-cancer agent is able to destroy the blood vessels connecting masses to the body, starving them of energy, with its key active agent named as colchicine, which is found in the autumn crocus.

It has been tested in relation to five different forms of the disease in laboratory conditions and experiments on mice have demonstrated no adverse effects, with half of the subjects in complete remission following a single dose.

Director of the Bradford Institute for Cancer Therapeutics, Professor Laurence Patterson, stated: "What we've designed is, effectively, a 'smart bomb' that can be targeted directly at any solid tumour to kill it without appearing to harm healthy tissue."

In the US, researchers from the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and Duke University Medical Center have been developing a treatment that uses nanotechnology to combat ovarian cancer by delivering doses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy directly to cancerous cells.

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