Researchers have discovered that molecules derived from avocados could be an effective form of treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
Professor Paul Spagnuolo from the University of Waterloo, whose research has been published in Cancer Research oncology journal, discovered that the nutritious, creamy fruit contains a lipid that naturally fights AML, targeting the stem cells. Very few treatments that target leukemia stem cells exist worldwide.
AML is a devastating disease that is fatal in less than five years for 90 percent of people older than 65. According to the study, the new avocado-derived treatment has strong potential to increase quality of life and lengthen life expectancy for AML patients.
“The stem cell is really the cell that drives the disease,” Professor Spagnuolo said. “The stem cell is largely responsible for the disease developing and it’s the reason why so many patients with leukemia relapse. We’ve performed many rounds of testing to determine how this new drug works at a molecular level and confirmed that it targets stem cells selectively, leaving healthy cells unharmed.
“It’s an exciting time for our lab,” Professor Spagnuolo continued. “With the help of CCRM (Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine), we are now pursuing commercial partnership that would take avocatin B into clinical trials. Not only does avocatin B eliminate the source of AML, but its targeted, selective effects make it less toxic to the body, too.”
Professor Spagnuolo is one of only a few researchers worldwide applying research processes from the pharmaceutical industry to nutraceuticals, or food-derived compounds.
AML is a lethal form of blood cancer affecting 20,000 Americans annually. One major cause of AML is exposure to benzene, a chemical widely used in a number of industries and products. Benzene exposure can also cause other life-threatening diseases including Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), lymphomas and aplastic anemia. People who work in close proximity to the chemical are at serious risk for exposure, through both inhalation and through skin absorption, because their exposure can occur at much higher levels and for longer periods of time.
Source: Waterloo News