DR Bradley Simpson of Flinders University is investigating native Australian plants for potential cancer-killing properties.
The program is being undertaken in collaboration with three Indigenous communities from the Adelaide Hills and Flinders Ranges in South Australia and Cape York in Far North Queensland.
The study is now in its eighth month and Dr Simpson had detected changes in the appearance and shape of cancer cells when combined with the plant extracts, a promising result.
"We've seen some promising effects on changes to the morphology of the cancer cells but we still need to test the plants on healthy, normally functioning cells to see if they have selective killing properties," Dr Simpson, based in the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer, said.
The next step will be testing whether the plants simply have a toxic effect, or if they’re effective in targeting cancer cells in vivo.
Dr Simpson is currently experimenting with several cancer types, including acute leukaemia and skin, lung, breast and colon cancers.
"Nature is a treasure trove of potential better treatments, and both myself and the Indigenous communities I'm working with think these particular plants have real promise.
"I wouldn't say we can cure cancer with one chemical treatment alone, it takes a broader approach, but if we find some promising results from these plant studies it means we might be able to use them to complement existing treatments."