The undiscovered wonders of the world's rain forests and how they could someday benefit mankind are one of the many reasons touted for protecting the habitat that covers 6 percent of Earth's surface, housing more than half of all plant and animal diversity.
Case in point: a cancer-killing berry that was discovered in tropical Far North Queensland, Australia.
Seeds from the fruit of the blushwood tree, which grows in a very specific region of Queensland, Australia's rain forest, were used to create a drug that fights certain types of cancer. (Image source: ABC News screenshot)
Researchers at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute have tested a drug made from the seeds of a berry on the blushwood tree. They found the drug eradicated cancerous tumors in pre-clinical trials, according to a news release from the institute.
Just one injection of the drug, dubbed EBC-46, kills cancer by cutting off blood supply to the tumor and upping the body's immune system to attack the remains, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
“We were able to achieve very strong results injecting EBC-46 directly into melanoma models, as well as cancers of the head, neck and colon,” Dr. Glen Boyle, lead author of the study said in a statement. “In most cases the single injection treatment caused the loss of viability of cancer cells within four hours, and ultimately destroyed the tumors.”
To ABC, Boyle said the speed of the drug was "surprising."
"There's a purpling of the area, of the tumor itself, and you see that within five minutes and you come back the next day and the tumor's black and you come back a few days later and the tumor's fallen off," Boyle told the news company.
Boyle pointed out that, at least for now, the drug is only known to be effective on tumors on which it can be directly applied.
Though the current study, published in the journal PLOS One, describes the drug's effectiveness against tumors in mice, Boyle said that the results suggest it could be successful in humans as well. The researchers are waiting for regulatory approval to begin a human trial. It has also proved effective in dogs, cats and horses with cancerous tumors.
According to a video report from ABC, the trials in animals have shown a 75 percent success rate with EBC-46 against the types of tumors it is able to combat.
The drug was identified and created by the company QBiotics, a subsidiary of Queensland-based Ecobiotics. EBC-46 is already being tested as a veterinary drug in trials taking place in Australia and the U.S., according to the news release.
(H/T: Science Alert)