Cancer researchers in Windsor hope to start clinical trials soon to find out if dandelion root extract can kill cancer cells in humans without harming healthy cells.
“We are very excited,” said Dr. Siyaram Pandey, a biochemist at the University of Windsor, describing the result of lab tests that so far confirm dandelion-root extract kills cancer cells from leukemia blood samples.
He and oncologist Dr. Caroline Hamm of Windsor Regional Hospital are submitting their application to Health Canada for approval of a stage 1 clinical trial to determine what dose of dandelion-root extract is tolerable and effective in patients with an aggressive form of leukemia known as chronic myelomonocyctic leukemia (CMML) and other cancers, including pancreatic cancer and melanoma.
The research could lead to a cancer treatment that is non-toxic and not derived from synthetic chemicals.
“It triggers a very specific kind of suicide,” Pandey said of the process in which the dandelion-root extract causes cancer cells to die.
“The fantastic observation was that it was very selective to cancers.”
In other words, the extract only targeted cancer cells and not healthy cells.
This is a contrast to current chemotherapy treatments, which are very toxic and damage normal cells in the process of killing cancerous ones.
Pandey said the same cell-suicide result was observed when the dandelion-root extract was applied to other types of cancers, including bone cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer and neuroblastoma.