Get ready to tentatively fist-pump your way through the day. An experimental drug derived from the fruit of the Australian blushwood tree has sent shockwaves through the medical community fighting cancer.
Dr. Glen Boyle has spent the last eight years injecting a compound dubbed EBC-46 into 300 animals (including horses, cats and dogs) suffering from head and neck tumors, as well as melanoma . . . and in 75% of the cases, the tumor has disappeared and never come back.
The blushwood tree and its miracle fruit are rather finicky about where they'll grow, however; in fact, the tree is only found in the Atherton Tablelands, a fertile plateau in North Queensland, Australia, boasting a modest habitat of only 32 square miles.
EBC-46 was developed by the Queensland biotechnology company Qbiotics, by "selecting selecting increasingly purified fractions of plant extracts." Rumor has it the scientists were first intrigued by the fruits' ability when they discovered that marsupials found the seed unpalatable due to high concentrations of an "inflammatory chemical."
While Boyle has spent nearly a decade dedicated to unraveling the blushwood's secrets, he insists it's still a bit of a mystery.
"There's a compound in the seed—it's a very, very complicated process to purify this compound and why it's there in the first place, we don't know. The compound works by three ways essentially: It kills the tumor cells directly, it cuts off the blood supply, and it also activates the body's own immune system to clean up the mess that's left behind."
Boyle also says there are no perceivable side effects, and that the speed at which the compound works is nothing short of staggering; large tumors were disappearing entirely in a matter of days.
"There's a purpling of the area, of the tumor itself, and you see that within five minutes. And you come back the next day and the tumor's black. And you come back a few days later, and the tumor's fallen off."
While Boyle and Qbiotics have been green-lighted to begin human trials, he warns that EBC-46 can solely be used as a direct injection to tumors, not as a means of countering metastatic cancers, which break off from the central tumor and travel throughout the body using the bloodstream or lymph system.
As of now, EBC-46 would serve as an additional treatment option, not as a replacement for surgery or chemotherapy.
Still, in these trying times, it's hard not to revel in the story of a miracle fruit that might help curb a deadly disease. Science, once again, wins the day.