Acute myeloid leukemia is a devastating disease and proves fatal within five years for 90% of seniors over 65 years of age. Worldwide, there are very few drug treatments available to patients that target leukemia stem cells. Adding to the health benefits of avocados, University of Waterloo scientists have found that the nutritious fruit may hold the key to beating deadly leukemia. They have discovered a lipid in avocados that combats AML by targeting the root of the disease - leukemia stem cells.
University of Waterloo Professor Paul Spagnuolo said, "The stem cell is largely responsible for the disease developing and it's the reason why so many patients with leukemia relapse. We performed many rounds of testing to determine how the new drug worked at a molecular level and confirmed that it targets stem cells selectively, leaving healthy cells unharmed. Not only does avocatin B eliminate the source of AML, but its targeted, selective effects makes it less toxic to the body, too."
The drug is still several years away from becoming approved for use in oncology clinics, but Spagnuolo is already performing experiments to prepare the drug for a Phase I clinical trial.
The research is published in the Cancer Research.