Medicinal herbs only found on an island in Mauritius could one day form the basis of a treatment for one of the most deadly forms of cancer, scientists believe.
Chemicals present in the leaves of the Acalypha integrifolia, Eugenia tinifolia, and Labourdonnaisia glauca plants were found to stop esophageal squamous carcinoma cells in a lab. The plants were found to contain a chemical which switches on the signaling pathway of the AMPK protein, and in turn prevent cancer cells from growing.
The disease is aggressive, and only around 20 percent of patients with esophageal cancer survive five years after being diagnosed, compared with 90 percent for breast cancer, for instance. Most esophageal cancer patients don’t live longer than a year past diagnosis. Scientists are therefore trying to find new, effective treatments
In this instance, they looked to Mauritius. Thanks to the location, age and isolated nature of the Indian Ocean island, it is home to a range of endemic plants and wildlife. As many as 39 percent of its plants, 80 percent of non-marine birds and reptiles, as well as 40 percent of its bat species are unique to Mauritius.