New Delhi: As scientists tirelessly work towards discovering a cure for cancer, a hope for improvement in the treatment of the disease has come forth in the form of daffodils.
Scientists have extracted a natural anti-cancer compound from daffodils that may help improve treatments for the deadly disease.
Researchers, led by Denis Lafontaine from Universite libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in Belgium, discovered that this compound triggers the activation of an anti-tumoural surveillance pathway.
The compound is an alkaloid named haemanthamine and binds to the ribosome, the scientists established.
Ribosomes are nanomachines essential to the survival of our cells because they synthesize all our proteins.
To sustain their unrestrained growth, cancer cells rely on increased protein synthesis.
They are therefore particularly sensitive to treatments that inhibit the production and the function of ribosomes.
In the study published in the journal Structure, the researchers have shown that haemanthamine from daffodils blocks the production of protein by ribosomes, thus slowing the growth of cancer cells.
Haemanthamine also inhibits the production of these nanomachines in the nucleolus (the “ribosome factory”).
This nucleolar stress triggers the activation of an anti-tumoural surveillance pathway leading to the stabilization of the protein p53 and to the elimination of cancer cells, researchers said.
The study provides for the first time a molecular explanation to the anti-tumoural activity of daffodils used for centuries in folk medicine.
(With PTI inputs)