~ New Cancer Hope Stems From Pineapples

Australian Broadcasting Corporation: News Online, 07-06-05

Austrailan researchers are harvesting pineapples as a possible source of anti-cancer drugs, after a fluke discovery of their potential healing properties.

Researchers at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) knew pineapple stems contained enzymes that could help digestion.

QIMR's Tracey Mynott says they have also found that hidden inside the stem are two molecules that could change the way cancer is treated.

One can stimulate the body's immune system to kill cancer cells; the other can stop a protein found in 30 per cent of all cancers.

"The discovery of the biological properties was quite by accident - it was one of those true serendipitous discoveries," Dr Mynott said.

While the research is only in its early stages, scientists say lab tests have shown the molecule can stop the growth of tumour cells in breast, lung, bowel and ovarian cancer.

"We've found that these molecules are very effective in blocking tumour growth in animal studies," QIMR spokesman Dr Christian Engwerda said.

Dr Mynott added: "We've shown we can inhibit tumour growth by 70 per cent and what's more important was that there was no evidence of any toxicity in these animals at all."

The researchers have won a grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council which will allow clinical trials of the pineapple-produced drugs to begin within two years.

Their grant was part of $100 million in Federal Government research money announced today by federal Health Minister Tony Abbott.

"The Government is very conscious of the good our health and medical researchers do and the importance of ever increasing investment, if Australia is to retain its world leading edge," Mr Abbott said.

See http://www.abc.net.au

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