TROPICAL plants could contain the ingredients to treat ovarian cancer, according to researchers at the University of Portsmouth.
Scientists from the universities of Portsmouth and Strathclyde have been developing a programme for testing plant extracts for their ability to stop cells from ovarian tumours growing.
And in initial tests, several plant extracts killed the tumour samples taken from cancer patients.
Ian Cree, professor of histopathology, pharmacy and biomedical sciences at Portsmouth’s Institute of Biomedical and Biomolecular Science, said: ‘This is a first – no one has managed to use cells obtained directly from cancers to screen an entire library of plant extracts and we are very excited by the results obtained.
‘The key now will be to obtain further funding to produce drugs from those samples showing that they can kill cancer cells.
‘The method could also be used to find drugs to treat other cancers.’
He added: ‘It should be stressed that drug development is a very lengthy process and that these results, though exciting, are a long way from being used in patients.’
Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women, affecting more than 6,500 in the UK alone each year.
The research was funded by The Portsmouth Hospitals Trust Rocky Appeal, which bought the equipment used in the trial, and by CanTech Ltd.