Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Woad is good for you: "Woad, the plant that was used by Ancient Britons and Celts to make their striking blue warpaint, has been found to be one of the most potent natural sources of a compound used to fight cancer. A team of Italian scientists found that it contains 20 times more of the cancer-fighting chemical glucobrassicin than broccoli, a plant prized for its powers to combat the disease. The researchers, led by Stefania Galletti, of the University of Bologna, found that the glucobrassicin levels could be further enhanced to nearly 65 times. They hope that the discovery may advance research of disease treatments, particularly for breast cancer. The study, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, showed that the compound plays a defensive role in plants, with levels increasing by 30 per cent if a leaf is damaged. Derivatives of glucobrassicin can kill some plant pests, such as insects, and also appear to have antitumour properties, and are particularly effective against breast cancer."

Asthma mystery solved: "Asthma sufferers could one day be carrying a second "puffer" to help them battle attacks triggered by head colds. The speculation came after a breakthrough by British scientists which solves the riddle of why asthmatics often have an attack following a cold. The key lay in the immune systems of asthmatics, according to a team led by Professor Sebastian Johnston at the Imperial College London. They discovered that when asthmatics were infected by the virus causing the common cold they produced only half as many anti-viral proteins, called interferons, as non-asthmatics. That allowed the viruses to more easily irritate the lung cells of asthmatics and explained why inhalers or steroid drugs were often less effective when they had colds. The research, published yesterday in the journal Nature Medicine, was hailed as an exciting breakthrough. "I think this is the first time this has been shown," Asthma Foundation of Queensland spokesman Ian Yang said. "This is quite an exciting breakthrough because it leaves open a way to deal with the problem. "What they have found is these proteins are deficient in asthmatics. It could be if you supplemented these proteins using a second inhaler it might help with attacks." Dr Yang said if such an inhaler could be developed the timing would be critical as sufferers would probably have to use it within the first day or two of contracting a cold".

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