La Trobe University research has revealed a tobacco plant’s natural defence mechanisms could be harnessed to kill cancer cells in the human body.
Scientists at the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science have identified that a molecule occurring in the flower of the plant that fights off fungi and bacteria also has the ability to identify and destroy cancer.
The defence molecule, called NaD1, works by forming a pincer-like structure that grips onto lipids present in the membrane of cancer cells and rips it open, causing the cell to expel its contents and explode.
‘One of the biggest issues with current cancer therapies is that the effect of the treatment is indiscriminate,’ Dr Hulett said. ‘In contrast, we’ve found NaD1 can target cancerous cells and has little or no effect on those that are healthy.’
Dr Hulett said scientists have known for some time about the molecules that form the first line of defence against microbial invasion in all plant and animal species. Until now nobody has known how the molecules actually did their job.
It is quite ironic that tobacco has been one of the leading causes of cancer and now it could possibly have the answer to treat it. But I guess everything has got its pros and cons. And the pros just keep on coming, cause they suspect that this defense mechanism could be used for other therapies such as antibiotic and antimicrobial applications. So rock on tobacco!