A herb of Chinese origin which is basically used to treat malaria, kills cancer cells too using a similar mechanism. The drug artemisinin is extracted from the wormwood plant. Knowing that artemisinin works by interacting with high iron levels in malaria parasites, researcher Henryi of the University of Texas wondered if the same approach would work with cancer cells. For it's known that cancer cells often have much higher iron concentrations that healthy cells.
Professor Henry and his team pumped up breast cancer cells with iron and then introduced artemisinin and found that after 10 hours all the cells were dead. With leukaemia cells, which can concentrate up to 1020 times more iron than healthy cells, the results were even more dramatic - death within just eight hours. What is basically needed now is some rigorous animal studies - observations to date suggest that the new drug may be very effective, but more research is needed.