Melbourne, May 1 : Researchers in Australia reveal that a tiny protein found in sunflower seeds may help halt the spread of prostrate cancer.
The boffins found that the sunflower mini-protein was able to block enzymes called proteases which break down the connective tissue around tumours, allowing the cancer cells to migrate.
The mini-protein has now been named the protease inhibitor, and has proved itself in test tube-based trial.
Researchers were also able to re-engineer the molecule so it blocks only the proteases, and leave other "good" proteases unharmed.
"We are extremely happy because now we can carry out trials in mouse-models of prostate cancer, and if we have positive results we could get a pharmaceutical industry partner interested in the work," said study leader Dr Jonathan Harris, of the Queensland University of Technology.
The boffins said that if current trials on mice are successful, a new human therapy will be available targeting prostate cancer spread.
"The dream end-product is having a drug which could be produced in sunflower seeds and given as a simple dietary supplement for people with prostate cancer," Dr Harris added.