Poison used on Zulu arrows found to fight cancerous tumours

                    London: A poison used by Zulu tribesmen on the tips of their arrows and spears has
                    surprised scientists by successfully attacking tumours in cancer patients.

                    Extracted from the root bark of Combretum caffrum, also known as the Cape
                    bushwillow, the poison has opened up a radically new way of combating solid
                    tumour cancers, which make up about 90 per cent of cases yet often defeat existing

                    The extract of Combretum caffrum is also used in traditional African medicines and
                    was one of a wide range of plant remedies investigated by scientists in the Cancer
                    Research Institute and Arizona State University in the late 1970s. Unlike
                    conventional tumour treatment, which often destroys healthy as well as cancerous
                    cells, the Zulu poison targets only blood vessels formed inside tumours. Why the
                    poison does this is still unknown. By shutting off the cells' supply of oxygen and
                    nutrients, the poison stops a tumour thriving, and forces it into decline.

                    British scientists said the first clinical trial of a compound based on the poison, known
                    as CA4P, has shown that it is safe and effective in cancer patients.

                    Reporting their findings at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical
                    Oncologists in San Francisco, the scientists said tumours in half the patients in the
                    study had shown a 50 per cent reduction in blood flow - confirming the anti-cancer
                    potential of CA4P.

                    Dr Gordon Rustin, of Mount Vernon Hospital in London, who carried out the trials
                    for the Cancer Research Campaign, said trials using CA4P together with
                    conventional anti-cancer drugs would begin by the end of the year. If these were
                    successful, patients with colon, ovarian and lung cancer could benefit within three

                    CA4P is the latest in a number of potent natural anti-cancer drugs to be identified by
                    scientists. They include taxanes, extracts from the bark of the Pacific yew, and garlic.

                    The Telegraph, London 5/18/01

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