Pass the Avocado (and kill cancer STEM cells)

Dr. Weeks’ Comment: We have all heard the admonition: “Let food be your medicine.”  Here we see that avocado is only the most recent in a never ending list of foods which are medicinal. Within this fruit is a compound (soon to be patented) which not only fights cancer but kills the lethal cancer STEM cells.  I have taught for the past 30 years that a plant could not exist today on earth were it not for the fact that it possesses medicinal qualities. The Easter lily has cancer fighting glycosides, the glorious foxglove has digoxin, the poison ivy has Rhus Tox, the Pacific Yew gives us the chemotherapy drug Taxol  and the soil of a farm in New York yielded a  bacterial strain, Streptomyces noursei  which kills fungi like candida called nystatin (“NY”).  The list goes on but for now, pass the avocado!  (and don’t forget to put the avocado pit itself into the Vitamix to blend it.. after all, the seed of any plant is the most nutrient dense part of the plant


Avocado a Treatment for Leukemia? Fruit Molecules Found to Target Stem Cells of Cancer

Jun 17, 2015 06:00 AM EDT

SAN PASQUAL, CA – OCTOBER 30: An avocado that was spared fire damge hangs from an avocado tree October 30, 2007 in San Pasqual, California. An estimated 20,000 acres of avocado groves were damaged by wildfire, nearly one third of California’s crop. (Photo : Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Molecules derived from avocados may be the key to fight a certain type of leukemia, according to a new study.

In the study published on Monday in the journal Cancer Research, scientists have learned that avocado lipids used in making a compound named avocation B can help treat leukemia stem cells in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

AML has a fatality rate of 90 percent in diagnosed people aged 65 and above. The molecules derived from avocados were tested in a stem cell experiment by Professor Paul Spagnuolo and colleagues from Canada’s University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy.

“The stem cell is really the cell that drives the disease,” Spagnuolo said in a press release on the University’s website. “The stem cell is largely responsible for the disease developing and it’s the reason why so many patients with leukemia relapse. We’ve performed many rounds of testing to determine how this new drug works at a molecular level and confirmed that it targets stem cells selectively, leaving healthy cells unharmed.”

According to Spagnuolo, compound avocatin B eliminates the source of AML and has fewer side effects than current leukemia treatments. The current treatments available for leukemia include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and stem cell transplant, according to Mayo Clinic.

Aside from oncology applications, the compound can also be used in other fields. He adds that he prefers to use nutraceuticals than food or plant extracts because it is more precise compared to the latter.

“Extracts are less refined,” he noted. “Evaluating a nutraceutical as a potential clinical drug requires in-depth evaluation at the molecular level. This approach provides a clearer understanding of how the nutraceutical works, and it means we can reproduce the effects more accurately and consistently. This is critical to safely translating our lab work into a reliable drug that could be used in oncology clinics.”

Professor Spagnuolo has filed for a patent to use the compound to treat AML. He is also currently doing experiments for a Phase I clinical trial for the drug. According to the University’s press release, it will take a few years before the drug becomes approved.

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