Today in Irony: The Tobacco Plant May Help Cure Cancer

This sounds a bit ridiculous, I know, but scientists at The La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science in Melbourne, Australia, have identified a molecule within the tobacco plant that may be the key to fighting cancer.

The defence molecule, called NaD1, works by forming a pincer-like structure that grips onto lipids present in the membrane of cancer cells and rips it open, causing the cell to expel its contents and explode.

These molecules help plants prevent microbial invasions, and scientists are excited because they seem to have the ability to differentiate between cancer cells and healthy cells.

One of the biggest issues with current cancer therapies is that the effect of the treatment is indiscriminate,’ [Lead investigator Dr Mark] Hulett said. ‘In contrast, we’ve found NaD1 can target cancerous cells and has little or no effect on those that are healthy.’

That’s classic human right there. Finding the least healthy part of a plant and using it to kill ourselves, while completely ignoring the beneficial aspects. It’s basically like when we deep-fry potatoes.

[Pierre-Jean Durieu /]