Daffodils Could Be a Cancer Cure Someday
A relatively untapped component of daffodils is now being examined as a potential cancer cure for its ability to hamper cancer proteins and increase cancer cell death.
The extract may prove promising as a botanical-based drug to stop the proliferation of cancer – at least that’s what researchers at Faculty of Sciences at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in Belgium are working towards.
We are thankful for the explanations of the anti-cancer effects at the molecular level but must admit that it is complex.
Researchers have been able to extract a natural anti-cancer compound from the European-native Daffodils (Amaryllidaceae Narcissus) called haemanthamine [HAE]. They observed that this compound blocked the production of a protein which is essential for the growth of cancer cells.
“Cancer cells are particularly sensitive to a reduction in protein synthesis,” explains the study which was published in the scientific journal Structure (Cell Press). The compound achieves this by binding the ribosome, a protein builder found in cells which is responsible for the synthesizing process.
Medical New Today adds:
As the researchers explain in their study, cancer cells need protein synthesis in order to grow and progress. Cell organelles known as ribosomes are crucial for synthesizing proteins — in fact, ribosomes are often described as “micro-machines for making proteins.”
So, ribosomes are, in a way, the Achilles’ heel of cancer cells; the malignant cells are especially sensitive to therapies that stop ribosomes from functioning properly.
The compound also “hinders the production of such nanomachines in the nucleolus which will trigger the stabilization of the protein p53 and lead to the elimination of cancer cells.”
In their paper, Lafontaine and colleagues show that HAE inhibits protein production by acting on these ribosomes. The extract seems to block the production of ribosomes in the so-called nucleolus — something akin to a “ribosome factory.”
The nucleolar stress thus induced triggers a chain reaction that culminates with the elimination of cancer cells: it activates a tumoral surveillance pathway, which stabilizes a protein called p53, which, in turn, leads to cell death.
To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first time that a study has offered a molecular explanation for the anti-cancer properties of daffodils, which have been used in folk medicine since the times of Ancient Greece.
They also found that the Amaryllidaceae alkaloids also have “potential anticholinesterase, antimalarial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory effects” opening up the door to a variety of daffodil-based drugs with untold potential. Morphine and quinine in the same family as HAE.
Now the researchers must test four Amaryllidaceae alkaloids to identify the most promising compound that can then be turned into an anti-cancer drug.
[W]e provide a rationale for designing molecules with enhanced potencies and reduced toxicities.
DISCLAIMER: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment