x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Cancer drug could be found in the garden, UAE researchers find

It is hoped that the find can advance complementary therapies and alternative medicines.

AL AIN // Researchers at the United Arab Emirates University have discovered that home-grown plants have anti-cancer agents.

The find, announced yesterday, comes three years after Dr Rabah Iratni, the associate professor at the university's biology department, set up a laboratory to explore if a potent new anti-cancer drug could be found in the garden.

His team began studying various types of plant extracts and pure, naturally occurring phytochemicals in the search for new compounds that could provide more effective, less toxic ways to fight different forms of cancer, with a focus on breast and lung cancer.

It is hoped that the find can advance complementary therapies and alternative medicines.

Numerous phytochemicals and extracts have been evaluated so far and many of them were found to be highly effective against these cancers, a statement released by the university said yesterday.

"Recently, we have found that the leaf extract from the marjoram herb (Origanum Majorana), a worldwide spread plant with a long history of both culinary and traditional medicine, can inhibit the growth of cultured, invasive breast cancer cells," Dr Iratni said.

The findings were the result of a research project carried out by a national PhD student, Yusra Al Dhaheri, and have recently been published in the international scientific journal PLOS ONE and also reported in Nature Middle East.

ecleland@thenational.ae