Could avocados beat cancer? 24



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Delicious, tasty, healthy and now, news has it they can help us beat cancer. This week the humble avocado has been found to combat one of the more terminal cancers for over 65s, acute myeloid leukaemia.

Professor Paul Spagnuolo from the University of Waterloo in Canada has discovered a lipid in avocados that combats acute myeloid leukemia (AML) by targeting the root of the disease – leukemia stem cells. Worldwide, there are few drug treatments available to patients that target leukemia stem cells.

AML is a devastating disease and proves fatal within five years for 90 per cent of seniors over age 65. Spagnuolo’s new avocado-derived drug could one day significantly increase life expectancy and quality of life for AML patients.

“The stem cell is really the cell that drives the disease,” said Professor Spagnuolo, in Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy. “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.”

Spagnuolo’s research is published today in Cancer Research, a top-ten oncology journal. Through partnership with the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM) he has also filed a patent application for the use of the compound, named avocatin B, to treat AML.

“It’s an exciting time for our lab. With the help of CCRM we are now pursuing commercial partnership that would take avocatin B into clinical trials,” said Professor Spagnuolo. “Not only does avocatin B eliminate the source of AML, but its targeted, selective effects make it less toxic to the body, too.”

The drug is still 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. This is the first round of trials where people diagnosed with AML could have access to the drug.

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. I can’t pick an avocado for the life of me. So now at local organic markets when they in season. I get them ask the man for today 2 days and 5 days. He’s spot on no waste.

  2. Gosh that sounds hopeful. Have 2 dear friends and a grand daughter of a friend who have leukaemia and would wish these trials could be speeded up. In the mean time I will continue to enjoy my Avo a day and keep this nasty disease at bay.

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  3. Been eating them for ages. In addition to being good for you, they make the most wonderful face cleanser! Smear it all over your face, wait a few minutes (try not to lick your lips!!), then gently wash it off. Face squeaky clean.

  4. I used to eat half a day but they have become too expensive. But still occasionally have one on toast, sprinkled with cheese and under the grill till the cheese melts. Makes a great Sunday night meal.

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