Scientists have created a drug, derived from a poisonous weed, that can travel harmlessly through the bloodstream until it detects cancer cells and kills them. The drug, G202, shrunk human prostate tumors grown in mice by an average of 50 percent within 30 days, far outperforming docetaxel, a chemotherapy drug currently used.
G202 is derived from Thapsia garganica, a weed that grows in the Mediterranean region that makes a product called thapsigargin, which has been known to be toxic to animals since the time of ancient Greece.
Scientists re-engineered the plant by chemically modifying thapsigargin so that it can travel through the bloodstream without harming healthy blood vessels and tissues. But when G202 encounters cancer tumors, a protein released by the tumors triggers the drug to release cell-killing agents into the tumor and the blood vessels that feed it
physicians have performed phase I clinical trials to assess the safety of the drug and have treated 29 patients with advanced cancer. They are planning a phase II trial to test the drug on patients with prostate and liver cancers.
The study by scientists from Johns Hopkins University and Denmark was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine