Natural alternatives to current forms of cancer treatment, especially chemotherapy and radiation, present a number of intrinsic advantages and have been a point of focus in recent years. Vismia baccifera might just be the perfect candidate to take over this job.
“Right now, there is huge interest in identifying compounds derived from plants that could be used as chemotherapeutic agents with the capacity to prevent tumours from growing, or to treat metastasis, for example”, explained Dr Jenifer Trepiana, member of the team from UPV/EHU’s Faculty of Medicine and Nursing that worked on the project.
These researchers from the University of the Basque Country discovered that the plant, a native of the Amazonian region, produced a toxic response in tumor cells increases the number of free radicals, especially hydrogen peroxide.
“Indigenous populations use it for its anti-inflammatory properties or for urinary tract disorders or skin diseases, but we chose it because in previous studies we had seen that it is the one with the greatest antitumour capability in liver cancer cells that we have used”, added Mrs. Trepiana.
Interestingly enough “only the cancer cells were affected” and furthermore “these effects do not take place in healthy human liver cells”. It seems that the hydrogen peroxide stops cell division and activates a process of programmed cell death called apoptosis.
While the results of their study do seem impressive, it should be noted that the trials were conducted only in laboratory conditions and don’t necessarily translate in the same way to living subjects