Drug From Evergreen Tree Could Cure Breast Cancer

Scientists at UC Santa Barbara have discovered that a drug derived from the evergreen tree could save the lives of some patients with the deadliest form of breast cancer.

The new drug is named trastuzumab-DM1, and is a synthetic derivative of maytansine, a molecule found in an evergreen tree in the genera Maytenus, which grows on several continents.

The drug works by targeting the microtubules of cancer cells, the dynamic, rapidly growing and shortening protein filaments that help cells to divide and multiply (UCSB).

In previous research, the drug was thought to be too dangerous for human use because it was equally toxic to non-cancerous cells. However, scientists found that by combining the substabce with an antibody caused the drug to target only cancer cells, greatly reducing its toxicity.

Early clinical trials show that the drug shrank the tumors of one-third of the patients in the breast cancer study –– a strong result, according to the authors.

“Although the drug is not yet approved by the FDA, current clinical trials are open to new patients,” said Mary Ann Jordan, a professor in UCSB’s Department of Cellular, Molecular and Developmental Biology. “And, the drug is being tested, with good results, on other cancers, such as multiple myeloma and B-cell lymphoma.”

About the image above: Fluorescence microscopy image of abnormal mitotic spindles in four breast cancer cells that were treated with antibody-linked maytansine. The chromosomes (blue) are not able to arrange in normal symmetrical functional spindles because the dynamics of the microtubules (green) are inhibited by the drug. The drug-treated cells cannot divide and ultimately die.

Take The Quiz: What’s Your Breast Cancer IQ?

Like this story? Connect with Beth on Twitter or StumbleUpon!

Image Credit: UC Santa Barbara

109 comments

Elisa F.
Elisa F4 years ago

I realize that I'm years behind in reading this article, but I'm hoping they found success. Will do further research. Way to Go UCSB!!! Thanks for sharing!

SEND
Michealhussey M.
Past Member 4 years ago

Great webpage buddy, I am going to notify this to all my friends and contacts as well.
professional interventionist

SEND
Harshiita Sharma
Harshita Sharma5 years ago

Great! I hope they find the cure.

SEND
Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton5 years ago

Good news. Thanks for posting.

SEND
Veronica C.
Veronica C5 years ago

If it works, very few will have access to it.

SEND
Jane Warre
Jane Warren6 years ago

thnx for this

SEND
Gita Sasi Dharan
Gita Sasi Dharan7 years ago

Crossing fingers that it could save Lives! Lead kindly light, lead us in the right direction.

SEND
Thomas N.
Thomas N.7 years ago

Great news to hear!

SEND
Skye R.
Skye R7 years ago

Very interesting. I hope this can be implemented soon!

SEND
Julianna D.
Juliana D7 years ago

If one way is better than another way, you can be sure THAT way is Nature's way.

SEND