The autumn crocus is a beautiful but deadly flower. There is no antidote to colchine, the arsenic-like toxin it releases. Nonetheless, there is reason for the British to try to save this native endangered plant, because it just might help cure many kinds of cancers. While colchicine, the drug based on the autumn crocus, is already put to use fighting gout, a modified version of it is being touted as a smart bomb that detonates only when it comes into contact with tumor cells, leaving healthy ones alone.
Scientists are claiming that the drug, known as ICT2588, is effective against all forms of solid tumors. "We have found a way to harness colchicine's power so that it is harmless to healthy tissue, but still toxic to tumor blood vessels," Kevin Adams, of Bradford University's Institute for Cancer Therapeutics, told The Irish Times.
ICT2588 destroyed breast, bowel, lung and prostate cancer tumors in mice, surprising even the researchers when more than half of the mice went into total remission after one injection, and it slowed tumor growth among the rest. It works only when it comes into contact with MMT1, an enzyme used by tumors to invade surrounding tissue. ICT2588 prevents formation of new blood vessels to feed the tumor, essentially starving it.
Medical News Today reports that the researchers are negotiating with a sponsor for the money they need to take the compound to human trials, planned to take place at St. James' University Hospital in Leeds.