Magazine article African Business

Cancer Cure from African Traditional Medicine Found

Magazine article African Business

Cancer Cure from African Traditional Medicine Found

Article excerpt

If more proof were needed to show that Africa's traditional healers know their herbs from their barks, it came when British scientists announced a dramatic breakthrough in the search for a cure for cancer.

The extract from an African bush willow, Combretum caffrum which has been used for centuries by African herbalists to heal the sick and by Zulu warriors to ward off enemies, is the base for a new drug that might well deliver the killer blow to the Big C.

Making the announcement during the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists in San Fransisco mid May, Professor Gordon Rustin of Mount Vernon Hospital, London said a new drug developed by his team could seek out and destroy cancerous tumours in men and women.

The drug, combretastatin, cuts the supply of oxygen-laden blood to the cancers without causing serious side-effects to the patients. "Tumour blood vessels and normal blood vessels have slightly different structures," says Professor Rustin. "The crucial point about combretastatin is that it seems only to attack the former, which means its side-effects are limited."

At the moment, the standard form of cancer treatment, apart from surgically removing tumours, is radio-therapy and chemotherapy. Both methods attack healthy tissue as much as tumours and can have severe side-effects. Because of this, their effectiveness is limited.

Research has been going on for a considerable time into the development of angio-genetic drugs which attack the vessels supplying oxygen-rich blood to tumours. By starving the tumours of their blood supplies, researchers hoped to kill the cancers without harming healthy tissue.

Although researchers such as Judah Folkman of Harvard University Medical School have successfully cured mice of cancers using this method, a drug suitable for people had not been found - until this latest announcement. …

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