Tobacco Plant May Provide Key To Fight Off Cancer Cells

Smoking is typically linked with cancer, with numerous researches pinning the blame on tobacco and tar for the health issues. However, a new study now suggests that an ornamental tobacco plant species may provide a way of fighting cancer cells.

Ornamental tobacco plant

Special Note: Smoking is still dangerous for health, and advised to be cautious!

The research, done at the La Trobe Institute of Molecular Science, has been able to pin down a specific molecule in this plant which fights off fungi. This molecule has another unique and highly useful feature: it can track down cancer cells within a body and kill them.

The molecule is called NaD1 and it is able to pierce through the structure of cancerous cells and destroy them. To aid in its ruthless cleansing, it has a pincer-like structure which helps it pierce through the lipids of the target cells. This is preliminary research and it will be a while before we can determine how successful the use of NaD1 can be in real-life therapy.

However, the scientists behind the research are very hopeful. According to the lead investigator, Dr. Mark Hulett, ‘There is some irony in the fact that a powerful defense mechanism against cancer is found in the flower of a species of ornamental tobacco plant, but this is a welcome discovery, whatever the origin.The next step is to undertake pre-clinical studies to determine what role NaD1 might be able to play in treating cancer. The preclinical work is being conducted by the Melbourne biotechnology company Hexima. So far the preliminary trials have looked promising.’

Like Dr. Hulett says, NaD1 still needs to undergo a lot of testing and research before it can be deemed practically useful. Nonetheless, the research team is very hopeful that it may finally present a practical and benign way of specifically targeting cancerous cells and destroying them without harming the healthy cells.

Source: La Trobe University

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Salman Latif is a software engineer with a specific interest in social media, big data and real-world solutions using the two.Other than that, he is a bit of a gypsy. He also writes in his own blog. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter .

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