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Talk about flower power. A drug made from the autumn crocus seems to be the most powerful weapon in the fight against cancer so far, British scientists have found. When it was tested on mice, a single dose wiped out tumors without causing side effects. And it seems to work on the deadliest cancers, including lung, bowel, prostate, and breast cancer.
Scientists plan to start clinical trials on 20 to 30 British patients, all of whom have a late-stage cancer. But the tests on mice have been so promising that they are hoping to have the drug on the market in five years--as long as it's safe and effective in these human trials.
The drug is made from colchicine, which is found in crocuses that bloom in the late summer and fall. Once the colchicine reaches a cancerous tumor, it's able to break down the blood vessels that are causing the tumors to grow. The tumors then shrink until they disappear.
As the drug's British inventor, Professor Laurence Patterson, of Bradford University, explained to an audience at the British Science Festival (a yearly conference held in September, and going on now in England): "For some mice, all of their tumors regressed and didn’t come back. They were effectively cured. And that was a single dose, which is quite unusual."