Avocados, the single most popular fruit in the United States, are long known for their mild taste and healthy fats but new research shows that they may also contain a key to fighting leukemia.
Molecules derived from the humble avocado have been shown to target the stem cells of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) sufferers, according to a new study published in the journal Cancer Research. The fat molecule found in avocado is similar to just a small number of drug treatments available that attack leukemia stem cells directly yet leave healthy cells unharmed.
AML is the most aggressive form of Leukemia, a cancer that kills 90 percent of people over 65 who are diagnosed. Drugs that target stem cells are the most effective in treating the disease.
“The stem cell is really the cell that drives the disease,” said Professor Paul Spagnuolo, from the University of Waterloo and author of the study. “The stem cell is largely responsible for the disease developing and it’s the reason why so many patients with leukemia relapse.”
While a production drug is still years away from being approved for patient use, Spagnuolo is already preparing the compound for a Phase I clinical trial, the first step is getting a drug to market.