Researchers from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute have made an exciting discovery for cancer patients everywhere. A chemical found in a rare plant from Australia has the ability to "eat" cancerous tumors and completely eradicate them within days.
The tumor-eating chemical is found in the seeds of berries of the Blushwood plant. The chemical, which is being called EBC-46, takes three weeks to extract and the process is quite difficult. Experts are even saying that they still don't completely understand why the chemical is in the seed of the Blushwood berry in the first place.
Farming Blushwood in large quantities will also be extremely difficult because it needs the very specific rainforest conditions in North Queensland to thrive. The Atherton Tablelands are currently the only place where the berry grows, but researchers hope to be able to farm the plant someday.
The possible cancer cure is almost too good to be true, and researchers are very optimistic that human trials are not too far on the horizon. So far, treatments using EBC-46 have been used successfully in clinical trials involving pet dogs, cats and horses.
In most cases, a single dose of the treatment using the chemical caused the cancer cells in the tumor to degrade in just four hours. The tumor of one golden retriever named Oscar in the clinical trials on pets disappeared in just six weeks.
The speed of how EBC-46 works is in stark contrast to conventional treatments like radiation and chemotherapy, which severely compromise the body's immune system and take several weeks before the cancer even begins to shrink.
According to Dr. Glen Boylem, who leads the study, the treatment was successful on tumors and melanomas located in the colon, neck and head.
"It kills the tumor cells directly; it cuts off the blood supply and it also activates the body's immune system to clean up the mess that's left behind," he said.
The chemical turns areas of the tumor purple within a matter of minutes. In a few hours, the tumor turns black and shrivels. Within days, the tumor simply falls off.
In 70 percent of the clinical trials on pets, there were no side effects and the benefits were long-term. There were very little relapse cases within 12 months of being treated.
The biotechnology company EcoBiotics discovered the chemical in the Blushwood berry and is developing the drug to be used on animals and humans.
Clinical trials on humans have yet to be approved and so far, the treatment can only be used on tumors that are accessible via direct injection or topical application.