Common plant may hold cancer cure

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KETK) A research professor at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas says he has discovered a cancer fighting compound.

Dr. Shiyou Li has been working at SFA for 25 years, and he and his team have found something “promising” in a plant known to wreak havoc in East Texas lakes.

The U.S. patent Dr. Li has applied for would be for an anti-cancer compound that is found in giant salvinia, an invasive plant species found in many lakes in Texas, but that is native to Brazil.

“The goal of our research is to identify a new molecule fighting against the cancer, human cancer,” said Dr. Shiyou Li, Director of National Center for Pharmaceutical Crops at SFA.

Dr. Li says they found eight new compounds, with one of them showing anti-tumor activity.

Lab trials show this new compound can slow or even stop the growth of cancer cells, including pancreatic and lung cancer cells.

This work has lead to a U.S patent.

“His innovative research actually raises the profile of SFA,” said Dr. Hans Williams, Dean of Arthur Temple College of Forestry at SFA. “It puts us on the map, really, of doing some of the most innovative basic research that’s probably being conducted in the country today.”

With no roadblocks and the right funding this could go to market in 10 to 15 years.

But it’s not time to celebrate yet.

“This is still early, the developmental stage, it is hard to predict the future of clinical trials,” said Dr. Li.

But despite this, Dr. Li, his staff and SFA are all hopefully this invasive species could be used for something good.

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