Cancer drug made from rainforest plant shows promise, study says

Researchers in Australia have used an experimental drug made from the seeds of a rainforest plant to cure solid tumors in head, neck and colon cancer models.

The scientists, at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane conducted the pre-clinical trial and found that a single injection of the drug EBC-46 caused a rapid breakdown of certain cancerous tumors.

“In most cases the single injection treatment caused the loss of viability of cancer cells within four hours, and ultimately destroyed the tumors,” Dr. Glen Boyle, of the QIMR Berghofer’s cancer drug mechanisms group, said in a news release. “In more than 70 percent of pre-clinical cases, the response and cure was long-term and enduring, with very little relapse over a period of 12 months.”

EBC-46 is a compound extracted from the fruit of blushwood, a tree that can be found in north Queensland rainforests in Australia.

According to Boyle, in their research EBC-46 triggered a cellular response that cut off blood supply to the tumor.

Veterinarians have already used the experimental drug to shrink and destroy tumors in animals including dogs, cats and horses, the news release noted. Clinical trials on animals are already underway in Australia as well as in the United States.

The drug currently has limitations, as it can only be tried in the short term for tumors that can be accessed by direct injection or topical application, researchers noted.

“There is no evidence to suggest EBC-46 would be effective against metastatic cancers,” Boyle said.

The study was published in the Oct. 1 issue of the journal PLOS ONE.