Tropical plants could be used to fight ovarian cancer, suggest researchers at the Universities of Strathclyde and Portsmouth.
The scientists are developing a programme for testing plant extracts for the ability to stop cells from ovarian tumours growing. In initial tests, several plant extracts killed the tumour samples, taken from cancer patients.
The extracts are complex mixtures of many different chemicals but ingredients in the plants could be used as starting points for new medicines to tackle the disease.
Alan Harvey, Professor of Pharmacology at Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, said: "Ovarian cancer's inherent danger to women's health is compounded by the fact that it is notoriously difficult to detect. The disease's high death rates urgently need to be dealt with through safe and potent new treatments.
"Our collection of natural plant samples gives us a broad range of possibilities for treatment and we have had good results from many plants. A great many samples have been studied in our collaboration with Portsmouth and a lot of activity has been detected that wouldn't have been picked up in conventional tests.
"The high throughput screening in the method we have used has produced a high return and we are hoping that more tests will bring new treatments a step closer," added Harvey.