Researchers from the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) have discovered a compound from Daffodils may activate an anti-tumor pathway.
The natural alkaloid compound named haemanthamine binds to ribosomes, a nanomachine that synthesizes proteins in the body. Cancer cells survive by increased protein synthesis, so inhibiting ribosomes can slow the growth and proliferation of cancer cells.
This study provides for the first time a molecular explanation to the anti-tumoral activity of Daffodils used for centuries in folk medicine. Haemanthamine belongs to a large family of therapeutic molecules of natural origin: numerous other alkaloids, used in human health, are extracted from plants, such as morphine (potent pain killer), quinine (anti-malarial agent), and ephedrine (anti-asthmatic).
In a near future, the team of Denis Lafontaine, in collaboration with Veronique Mathieu (Faculty of Pharmacy- ULB), will test the effect on ribosome biogenesis and function of four Amaryllidaceae alkaloids, representative of the chemical diversity of these molecules. Their goal will be to identify rapidly the most promising chemical backbone to be further developed as a lead compound in cancer therapeutics.