Researchers at Lund University in Sweden say that tomato genes appear to be an effective agent against cancer cells, according to Sydsvenskan.
“The tomato genes work on cancer cells like suicide bombs,” says Professor Jure Piskur, one of the researchers involved in the research.
According to the report, a combination of tomato genes and AZT – which is used in the treatment of HIV - injected directly into a tumour causes the tomato genes to explode, killing cancer cells in the tumour.
“We have tested a hundred different organisms with a hundred different types of medicine. But the best combination is the tomato gene and AZT,” Piskur says, adding that the next step in the process is human testing. Piskur expects a treatment to be ready within the next five years, although he admits that gene therapy is not uncontroversial.
The first registered treatment with gene therapy for cancer began some months ago in Finland using genes from the herpes virus. While the treatment cannot cure cancer, it can slow its development.
“It gives one or two more years of life,” Piskur tells Sydsvenskan of the Finnish treatment, adding, however, that tomato genes appear to be much more effective.
He adds that there should be no danger of changing the human genetic makeup, given that the genetic suicide cocktail is injected directly into the tumour.