Betty's Health Buzz: You Need to Know This Right Now!

The tree that can cure breast cancer and more.
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Betty’s Health Buzz: You Need to Know This Right Now!

The tree that can cure breast cancer and more.

-Jane Farrell


Who can keep up with health and safety news? Betty can! And every week, we’ll be searching the web for crucial—and under-reported—stories.

A tree that cures the deadliest form of breast cancer?
Scientists have isolated a “drug” in the evergreen tree that can help cure the most serious kind of breast cancer, according to the website

The drug, maytansine, when paired with a “tumor-targeting antibody,” show “promising early results in clinical trials on patients with metastatic breast cancer,” said Mary Ann Jordan, professor of cellular, molecular and developmental biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The study was conducted by researchers at UCSB.

Early clinical trials showed that the drug shrank tumors in an impressive one-third of the patients in the study. Manu Lopus, a postdoctoral fellow at UCSB, said the maytansine works by entering the cancer cells and killing off microtubules, a protein that helps the malignant cells multiply.

Until recently, maytansine was thought to be too dangerous, because it had a fatal effect on non-cancer cells. But the UCSB research eliminated the toxicity by coupling the drug with an antibody that targets tumors. The combination drug is called trastuzumab-DM1.

Read Dietitians Separate Good Food From Bad

This isn’t the first time a tree has been found to contain a cancer-fighter. In the late 1960s, researchers found that the bark of the Pacific yew tree could help treat cancer. The synthetic version of the substance, taxol, has been used to treat cancer ever since.

“Sometimes people say that there is no progress in the fight against cancer,” the UCSB’s Jordan said, according to the website. “But there is progress on many fronts. There are many smaller advances on specific cancers.” (futurity)

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