Richters HerbLetter

Date: 95/03/14
1. New Plant-based Anti-Cancer Drug on the Market
2. Secret Spice Turns Hazardous

1. New Plant-based Anti-Cancer Drug on the Market
By Conrad Richter

A new anti-cancer drug derived from a compound found in an Egyptian herb is now available in Canada, Holland and Japan, and will soon be available in the United States.

Quadra Logic Technologies, a Vancouver-based medical research company has developed a light-activated drug called Photofrin which is used in photodynamic therapy.

The drug is injected into cancer cells and then activated by lasers. Because lasers can be directed to cancer tissues with precision, the drug destroys cancers selectively, leaving healthy tissue relatively undamaged.

The drug is a derivative of 8-methoxypsoralen, a compound that occurs naturally in several plants, including the Egyptian laceflower (Ammi majus) found growing throughout the Nile valley. When exposed to ultra-violet light, the drug binds to DNA, halts normal DNA replication, and so stops the proliferation of cancer cells.

Laceflower was used since ancient times in Egypt to treat psoriasis and other skin disorders. Psoriasis patients developed a strong sunburn reaction after taking laceflower, which helped to arrest the uncontrolled epidermal growth and scale formation characteristic of psoriasis. As in the modern anti-cancer treatment, exposure to UV-light, in this case the natural UV-light of sunlight, is enough to cause 8-methoxypsoralen to bind to the DNA in epidermal cells and halt scale formation.

Laceflower, also known as bishopsweed, is cultivated as an ornamental annual in gardens. It has lacy white umbelliferous flowers similar to those of the Queen Anne’s Lace or the wild carrot (Daucus carota).

Quadra Logic announced on Friday that it has entered into a 10-year agreement with Ligand Pharmaceutical Inc. of San Diego to distribute the new drug. The drug has been approved in Canada for the treatment of superficial bladder cancer and is under review for relatory approval for the treatment of esophageal cancer. Quadra Logic already has approval to sell Photofrin for lung and esophageal cancers in Holland and for lung, esophageal, gastric and cervical cancers in Japan.

2. Secret Spice Turns Hazardous
SYRACUSE, N.Y., February 15, AP -- It brought tears to many an eye. A woman who whips up batches of horseradish at home accidently spilled her secret spice Monday -- and it took a hazardous-materials crew to clean it up. "That must be some hellacious horseradish," Police Sargeant Mike Doolan said.

Ellen LaBombard of Fairmont, a Syracuse suburb, spilled 1-1/2 litres of allyl isothiocyanate, used to flavour her spiciest jars. LaBombard Horseradish comes in four varieties: Regular Hot, X Hot, XXX Hot, and Too Darn Hot. She tried to air out the basement by plugging in a fan, but the vapours quickly forced her out.

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