It’s called ‘thale cress’, it’s tiny and short-lived, and it’s been considered a bit of a weedy underachiever in the medicinal plant world. But research by the universities of Brunel, Exeter and Royal Holloway, London has just turned the heads of all those who dismissed the ‘Cinderella’ of the plant world.
Researchers treated thale cress leaves with the plant hormone jasmonate, a substance found in jasmine that improves plant responses to stress. Then they incubated the leaves with breast cancer cells.
The cancer cells stopped growing, while normal cells were unaffected. This could mean that thale cress could lead to fewer side-effects for chemotherapy patients, and faster recovery. The researchers also found molecular mechanisms in the altered breast cancer cells that may lead to further new treatments.
Professor Deveto, from the Department of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway, said: “I am truly excited to have discovered the amazing impact this unassuming plant has on breast cancer cells. It just proves that even plants with a non-medicinal pedigree can work for cancer treatment”.