A drug derived from a plant native to the Australian rainforest may prove to be a new weapon against cancer, according to the AFP. QBiotics Ltd has released a statement announcing that a drug made from the seeds of a rainforest shrub has successfully treated tumors in over 150 animals, and the company is now preparing to test the drug on humans.
Known as EBC-46, the drug may work on a wide-variety of cancers, including skin, breast, prostate, head and neck tumors. The drug works by altering white cells to the growth, which they attack.
Despite the promising announcement, the company’s research has yet to be published and human trials will be necessary to determine the drug efficacy against cancer in humans.
Still according to the Chief Executive of QBiotics, Dr. Victoria Gordon, the drug proves the importance of conserving the world rainforests, which are vanishing at a rate of some 80,000 acres (32,300 hectares) a day.
“The world’s rainforests are an amazing biological resource which we need to conserve and cherish,” Gordon said in a statement as reported by AFP. “Not only may they hold the secret to many new drugs, they are the home of more than half of all other species with which we share the planet.”
Experts say the Earth has entered a mass extinction period due to human activities, such as deforestation and habitat destruction. The extinction rate has risen to approximately 100 to 1000 times higher than the background rate. In fact, many species vanish before they are even named and described by scientists, let alone tested for medicinal qualities.
Tropical deforestation is largely driven by big business and the global market for cheap commodities, such as beef, palm oil, wood and, often disposable, paper products.
(06/14/2010) If someone saves your life, you want to express your gratitude however you can — a gesture, a “thank you,”, or somehow returning the favor. Yet when you owe your life to a plant found thousands of miles away, the task becomes much harder. As a nurse, I’ve known for years that many life-saving medicines come from plants and animals found around the world. But I never thought that one day I would have to rely on the bark of a rare Asian tree to survive.
(07/09/2009) Although the majority of drugs available today have been derived from natural products, research into nature-based pharmaceuticals has declined in recent years due to high development costs and the drug approvals process. However this trend is likely to reverse due to new approaches and technologies, according researchers from the University of Alberta.
(06/29/2009) Two drugs derived from rainforest plants in Sarawk (Malaysian Borneo) are now in their final stages of development, reports Bernama.